Yemeni forces tighten hold on major Hodeida area

Hadi urges People’s General Congress to end rifts to cement anti-Al Houthi front

Cairo: Yemeni government forces have taken full control of a strategically important district in Hodeida as part of a campaign launched two months ago against Iran-allied Al Houthi militants.

Footage released on Tuesday by the army media centre showed heavy weaponry left behind by Al Houthis after losing the district of Al Durhaimi, south of Hodeida.

The army videos also showed government forces moving inside Al Durhaimi, which is regarded as the gateway to Hodeida.

In June, an Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE unleashed a massive offensive to liberate Hodeida, which has been under Al Houthi control since October 2014.

Government loyalists, supported by coalition jets, have since made territorial gains in the area, including recapture of the Hodeida international airport.

The battle over Hodeida is the biggest in Yemen’s war of nearly four years.

Setbacks suffered by Al Houthis in the West Coast region have put pressure on the rebels to restart UN-sponsored talks.

International envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths has announced a round of consultations between the warring sides in Geneva on September 6.

In recent weeks, Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi has stepped up his efforts to gain more support from his compatriots and the outside world for the campaign against Al Houthis

His latest bid came late on Monday when he urged members of the ruling People’s General Congress (PGC) party to end rifts and unify their ranks in fight against Al Houthis.

Established by Yemen’s late president Ali Abdullah Saleh in the 1980s, the PGC experienced divisions after Hadi took office in 2012, replacing Saleh.

The rifts deepened in late 2014 after Al Houthis toppled Hadi’s government and seized the capital Sana’a. Last December, Al Houthis killed Saleh after he broke his alliance with them.

Meeting senior PGC members in Cairo, Hadi called for “turning the page of disagreement”.

“Today, the world looks at the PGC with a big hope that the party will rally its ranks on firm fundamentals, including resistance of the coup, support for the constitutional legitimacy to end the coup, and restoration of the political process,” he added at the gathering, part of his two-day visit to Egypt.

Thousands of Yemenis, including politicians, have taken refuge in Egypt from the war in their homeland.

Hadi’s two-day visit to Egypt was his third to the country since he became president.

Egypt is a partner to the Saudi-led alliance that intervened in Yemen in 2015 after Al Houthis advanced on the southern city of Aden, the temporary capital of Hadi’s government after their takeover of Sana’a.

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