Aden- Late Friday evening, both the Yemeni National Army and the Popular Resistance managed to relief Taiz from the barricade formerly imposed by Houthi militia and pro-Saleh (ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh) combatants. Pro-legitimacy forces fought at both battlefronts taking place at the city and in Wadi al-Dabab, which later resulted in successfully lifting the insurgency’s upper-hand off of Taiz. Battlefronts witnessed fierce bloody clashes at which tens of Houthi and pro-Saleh militias were reported killed at the 35th armored brigade’s headquarters, the University of Taiz and at al-Saleh’s Gardens resort.
National Army and Popular Resistance Spokesman in Taiz Col. Mansour al-Hassani told reporters at Asharq Al-Awsat that the siege has been lifted off of Taiz. “The barricade has been broken on the western front of Taiz, tens of insurgents were killed during the confrontations, and it was for humanitarian purposes that we were not allowed to visually record or broadcast the incident,” he said.
“On Friday, Houthis suffered a grave loss among their ranks. Our forces also took over the entire military arsenal militants left behind after they fled the battlefield,” al-Hassan also confirmed that the Popular Resistance has gained a large amount of arms and weaponry.
In the ballpark, Yemen’s ambassador to the U.N. revealed that a prisoner exchange deal has taken place between Houthi militias and the Saudi-led Arabian coalition forces. The exchange was arranged and mediated by Yemeni tribal members located in bordering areas with Saudi Arabia.
The exchange was realized in context of the trust-building measures demanded by the U.N. as a step forward towards preliminary preparations for another round of Yemeni peace talks.
Ambassador al-Yamani expressed his optimism on the prisoner exchange accomplishment to have a positive effect on the negotiations and hasten the new peace talks sessions sponsored by the U.N.
He told Asharq Al-Awsat the peace talks are expected to resume late this March. Al-Yamani also pointed out that the U.N. special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed has not specified a date for the negotiations, however, it is decided that they take place in the last week of current March, and will be held in Switzerland.
Moreover, al-Yamani clarified that the previous round of peace talks in Switzerland outlined the importance of trust-building measures so that the ceasefire is sustained on the long term, in addition to lifting the barricade off of Taiz and stepping towards freeing those held captive.