CAIRO – Yemeni pro-government militias, with the support of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), have intensified their attack against Al Hudaydah, a strategic port in western Yemen that is controlled by the Houthi rebels and that government forces have been seeking to recapture since June.
Local media outlets said on Saturday that pro-government forces had launched an offensive in the north and west of Yemen, showing images of troops nearing eastern Al Hudaydah.
The command of the Joint Yemeni Resistance Forces, which support the internationally recognized president, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, announced on Friday “a battle to liberate the strategic city of Al Hudaydah.”
“With the battle to liberate the city of Al Hudaydah, we promise the Yemeni people that we will continue the fight to liberate our homeland and to save our people from the criminality of the Houthi band,” the command said in a statement, while calling on people who were forcefully recruited by the Houthis to join its ranks.
Witnesses told EFE on Saturday that there have been continuous explosions during the last 24 hours in Al Hudaydah because of the advance of pro-government forces and aerial bombing by the coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
A previous pro-government offensive in the province of Al Hudaydah took place in June, though attacks were soon put on hold while the two sides held UN-backed negotiations.
However, the negotiations failed and fighting resumed in September.
The Houthis, which are allegedly backed by Iran, took control of the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, in September 2014, forcing President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi to escape to Aden.
The coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which has admitted carrying out attacks that have killed dozens of civilians, began its military intervention in Yemen in March 2015.
According to the United Nations, the fighting and bombing campaigns in Yemen have caused “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”