Yemeni forces approach historic town of Zabid

Cairo: Yemeni government forces were on Sunday pushing towards an ancient town in the west as part of a campaign against Iran-aligned Al Houthi militants, military sources said.

The push towards the town of Zabid on the east-southern outskirts of the coastal city of Hodeida comes a day after the Yemeni forces retook the neighbouring town of Al Tahita.

Clashes between the pro-government forces and Al Houthis were raging in the area of Wadi Zabid on the edges of the town where the extremists are holing themselves up, field sources said, according to the Dubai-based television Al Arabiya.

More than 60 Al Houthi fighters were killed in fight in the West Coast, the report said.

Last month, the Yemeni government forces, supported by a Saudi-led alliance, unleashed a military campaign aimed at expelling Al Houthis from Hodeida and its crucial port.

The offensive, the largest in Yemen’s three-year war, is expected to resume soon after a pause in support of hitherto-unsuccessful UN efforts to revive long-stalled peace talks between the warring sides.

Al Houthis are believed to plan to turn the fight over Hodeida into a street battle. They have dug up more than 100 trenches inside the Red Sea city in preparation for the looming battle, pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat newspaper reported on Sunday, citing local witnesses.

The digging has resulted in cutting off water supplies and impeding an exodus of civilians from the city.

Al Houthis have been in control of Hodeida since October 2014, a month after they overran the capital Sana’a in a coup against the internationally recognized government.

In recent weeks, the Arab Coalition has unleashed a multi-front campaign in Yemen against Al Houthis, including their stronghold of Saada near the Saudi border.

The alliance this week reported territorial progress on different fields and killed 341 Al Houthi militants in three days.

In 2015, the coalition, initiated a military campaign in Yemen after Al Houthis advanced on the southern city of Aden, the temporary capital of the country after their takeover of Sana’a.

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