Rebels step up attacks against coalition and government targets following end of truce
Al Mukalla: Armed men loyal to Al Houthi rebels on Monday forcibly dispersed a sit-in in Sana’a arranged by female relatives of dozens of imprisoned activists and journalists.
Local media outlets said that a number of women covered in black abayas gathered outside a hotel hosting the UN envoy to Yemen Esmail Ould Shaikh Ahmad, demanding the UN official to pressure the rebel movement to release their relatives. Al Masdar Online, an independent news site, said that Al Houthis beat the women with sticks and forced them to return home shortly after.
Local right groups have repeatedly criticised the rebel movement for keeping dozens of activists and journalists who challenged their coup without trial. Some of those activists have reportedly undergone brutal torture. Women close to those activists have arranged several protests to bring attention to their ordeal and pressure the rebels to set their relatives free.
On the frontlines, fighting has seen no sign of abating for the second consecutive day since the end of the latest widely violated truce. In the southern province of Shabwa, fierce clashes erupted on Monday when Al Houthis staged an attack on the government forces’ positions in Bayhan district, attempting to recapture strategic locations. Several fighters on both sides were killed in the clashes, including a leading pro-government figure called Abdul Hadi Wabra, according to Marib-based Armed Forces media centre.
Also, government forces repelled on Monday two consecutive attacks by Al Houthis and renegade army units loyal to the ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh on the government-controlled Al Masloub district. Jawf Media Centre quoted field commanders as saying that the rebel forces assaulted the government forces in Malhan and Al Zourga regions, using medium and heavy arms. Almost two years after the rebel forces swept the northern province, government forces backed by heavy aerial support from the Saudi-led coalition are in full control of most of Jawf’s cities, including the capital Hazem. Early this month, government loyalists, including tribesmen, liberated Ghayel district after heavy clashes with the rebel forces.
On Sunday, the coalition’s air defence shot down a ballistic missile fired at the province of Marib, the base of thousands of government and coalition troops. The rebels intensified launching ballistic missiles at the Saudi Arabia and Yemeni cities controlled by the government forces as their forces are suffering heavy defeats in battlefields. At the same time, local media reports said on Monday that the coalition’s warplanes carried out heavy air strikes on Al Houthi-held military positions in Mokha, Hodeida, Jawf and Shabwa.