Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Yemeni army, intelligence receiving training from Western experts for Sana’a operation: sources
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Smoke rises after a Saudi-led airstrike in Sana’a, Yemen, on July 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

Smoke rises after a Saudi-led airstrike in Sana’a, Yemen, on July 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

Sana’a and Al-Hudaydah, Asharq Al-Awsat—Western military experts have been involved in training Yemeni military commanders and intelligence operatives loyal to the country’s internationally recognized government, in preparation for an imminent operation to liberate the capital Sana’a from Houthi militias, sources said.

A source close to the Yemeni government, who requested anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat several senior Yemeni military cadres were being trained at a state-of-the-art facility and have been using the latest cutting-edge technology to help plan the Sana’a offensive.

“Several top Yemeni military commanders are currently receiving training on war simulators . . . at a military base in a neighboring country. The simulators being used are considered the most advanced worldwide and have been brought there and prepared specifically for use in planning this operation,” the source said.

They added that this technology was similar to the flight simulators used by professional pilots and “combines both air and ground operation” scenarios as well as offering highly accurate, panoramic views of the entire city.

The simulators are also similar to those used by the US military prior to the invasion of Baghdad in 2003, the source said.

Several security and intelligence officials are also being trained on a post-Houthi scenario in Sana’a, in order to “manage the security situation in the city after its liberation,” Asharq Al-Awsat has learned.

Sources said this was being overseen by military experts from several Gulf countries, as well as those from the United States, Britain, France, and Australia.

The sources said a first batch of Yemeni military cadres had also now arrived in Washington, DC, to receive training from the US military.

Sana’a has been under Houthi control since September 2014 when the group’s militias, backed by Iran and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, spread across the city and occupied government and military buildings and facilities.

A senior commander in the Popular Resistance, the coalition of forces loyal to the government and President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, told Asharq Al-Awsat recently a plan to liberate Sana’a was already in place and expected to begin in the coming days.

Popular Resistance forces have now closed in to around 80 miles (125 kilometers) of Sana’a. On August 9, the Houthi leadership declared a state of emergency in the capital. One source told Asharq Al-Awsat the move anticipated the impending operation to liberate Sana’a from Houthi control.

Meanwhile, on Sunday fighting continued on the ground in Yemen between the Popular Resistance and Houthi militias in the western city of Taiz. The Hadi loyalists have since Friday controlled most of the city but pockets of Houthi resistance remain. Most of the fighting was concentrated around the Presidential Palace in the city, eyewitnesses said.

This comes as the Saudi-led anti-Houthi coalition continued to pound targets belonging to the group in the western coastal city of Al-Hudaydah. Sources said coalition warplanes bombed several targets on Sunday including the Officers’ Club, the main Houthi stronghold in the city.

The Saudi-led coalition has been targeting the Houthis since March. This came in response to a request from President Hadi for military intervention in the country following a Houthi coup in February which ousted the internationally recognized Hadi and the government from power.

Wael Hazam contributed additional reporting from Al-Hudaydah.