Yemen troops have tightened their grip on the strategic Red Sea city of Mocha after ejecting the rebel forces from some districts, army commanders and allied media outlets said on Wednesday.
Yemen government initially declared liberating Mocha last month, but faced stiff resistance from Al Houthi snipers who refused to give up and took shelter inside residential areas.
Brigadier General Abdo Abdullah Majili, Yemen army spokesperson, told Gulf News on Wednesday that the government troops completely cleared the town of Al Houthi fighters and were working now on defusing landmines to enable displaced people to return home. “Our priority now is removing the landmines, restoring peace and security, and helping residents to return to their houses,” Majili said.
Hundreds of government troops backed by massive air support and logistics from the Saudi-led coalition began on January 6 a major military operation to push Al Houthis from the western coast. The rebels, who resorted to planting thousands of landmines to slow the advancing forces, suffered major setbacks in the early days of the offensive when the government forces took control of Al Ameri military camp, Dhobab, Jadeed and Mocha.
The town of Mocha has earned its fame from its old seaport where the country’s value coffee exports are shipped. The government has repeatedly accused the rebel movement of using the famous seaport and other coastal areas for bringing in arms supplies from Iran.
Local journalists embedded with the government forces posted on Wednesday photos of parts of the city, showing the aftermath of clashes and air bombardment.
Last week, Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi vowed in an interview with the London-based Al Quds Al Arabi newspaper that the final stage of the operation would see the liberation of the western port city of Hodeida, a major supply of cash for the rebel movement. Hadi said the government forces are advancing to Hodeida from Hajja’s Media in the north and Taiz’s Mocha in the south. “Hodeida is the next target after Mocha,” he said, adding that his government is determined to liberate the entire country from Al Houthis and their ally, the ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Similarly, at least 15 Al Houthi fighters were killed in fierce clashes with the government forces in the northern province of Hajja. The official Facebook page of the 5th Military Region said that the rebels were killed in government forces shelling on their position in Medi and Haradh cities.