Yemen Army Regains Control over Strategic Areas in Marib

Yemen

Aden – Yemeni National Army units continued their push in the eastern province of Marib, military sources said.

Yemen’s first group of special commandos managed to penetrate multiple insurgency strongholds in the Directorate of Sarawah in Marib.

An insurgency commander Brig. Gen. Hussein Qasim al-Saqqaf was killed in the attacks launched by government forces three days ago along with a number of his companions, many armed militiamen were captured as well.

According to information gathered from the third military zone in Marib, a commando operation also resulted in the seizure of a large number of documents.

Marib province is among a very few provinces that fought off Houthi military expansion in late 2014, months before Saudi Arabia and allied Arab countries entered the war to bring back legitimate President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi to power.

For almost two years, government forces and the Saudi-led coalition have been militarily pressuring rebels to turn over their territories in Marib as to put an end to sporadic rocket attacks on the province’s capital Marib.

The Yemeni National Army had launched a military operation consistent of intensive attacks on remaining coup pockets in Marib, and the army was able to successfully regain full control of the Mukhaddara region, a local told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Increasingly, the army has liberated the once Houthi-run region.

“The army, backed by pro-government popular resistance members, ambushed Sana’a militias before Eid al-Fitr and managed to exact remarkable advances,” the source added.

“This qualitative operation backed by air support from the Saudi-led coalition was very impressive and staged operations over the course of 48 hours.” said a field source in Al-Jada’an’s resistance to Asharq Al-Awsat.

As battlefield developments unfolded, coalition aircrafts sent out pamphlets across residential areas in Saada province, a coupists stronghold.

Eyewitnesses said that pamphlets urged citizens to cooperate with the pro-government forces and abandon Iran-allied insurgents to face their fate, warning any citizen or tribe from providing any support to insurgency militiamen.

In a related context, aerial bombardment by coalition air forces continued to target insurgency locations near the border in the Hajjah Governorate.

Field sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that there were fierce battles and intense artillery shelling and fire exchange in the Midi and Abs districts.

Sources said that artillery and rocket fire hit other locations in the front of Haradh, especially the area of Wadi Suleiman and the old customs and areas close to the border with Saudi Arabia.

Yemen: Dozens of Militiamen Killed in Marib Clashes amid Government Forces Advance

A soldier gestures as he sits atop a military vehicle accompanying Gulf Arab soldiers while they arrive at Yemen's northern province of Marib

Taiz – Dozens of Yemeni coup militiamen were killed in clashes in the north eastern city of Marib as government forces pushed towards the strategic Marthad hill.

Earlier, pro-government forces had locked control over multiple supply routes that used to provide Houthi insurgents and armed loyalists backing ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh with arms.

Field sources confirmed that 12 coup militiamen were arrested by government forces amid ongoing defeats striking their ranks. Putschists have been increasingly losing artillery and grounds.

A number of Marib civilians have returned to their homes after having been driven out of them due to fierce battles two years ago. Sources also pointed out that the army seized two military vehicles, weapons and ammunition, left by the militias in the liberated areas.

Marib province is among a very few provinces that fought off Houthi military expansion in late 2014, months before Saudi Arabia and allied Arab countries entered the war to bring back the legitimate president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi to power.

For almost two years, government forces and the Saudi-led coalition have been militarily pressuring rebels to turn over their territories in Marib as to put an end to sporadic rocket attacks on the province’s capital Marib.

Fighter jets from the Saudi-led coalition launched several air strikes, targeting Houthis’ military reinforcements to besieged fighters on Helan mountain.

Army spokesman in Taiz Colonel Abed Al Basit al Bahr told Asharq Al-Awsat that coupists had launched sporadic projectiles in order to inhibit the advances registered by army forces.

“Army morale is high due to ongoing battleground victories,” said Col. Bahr.

On the other hand, “Houthi ranks have been utterly demoralized,” he added.

Yemeni Intelligence Taskforce Arrests Top Houthi Leader in Marib

Yemen

Aden – Yemeni security forces announced arresting a senior militia leader in Marib east of the country, said officials.

Military sources revealed that national army units were able to comb through remaining territory of the Nihm district, in the eastern region of rebel-held Sana’a.

Arrested while attempting to flee, Houthi militia leader code named by ‘Abu Hussain’ was detained in a police chase, security sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

According to the sources, he worked undercover as a city merchant, but was tasked with rendering intelligence data.’

Apparently, he was also involved with pro-insurgency assassinations, in addition to being one of a key security leader.

Investigations with Abu Hussain are ongoing, security sources said.

More so, army forces in Marib recently arrested a number of coup leaders and officials in the coup-run government in Sana’a.

Arrests took place while the officials were attempting to escape the country by road through Marib and into neighboring Gulf states.

Over the last months, Marib witnessed intensifying operations and assassination attempts targeting tribal figures loyal to the legitimate government.

National Army forces are still fighting with the rebels in the front of the Sarawah district, the last insurgency stronghold in strategic oil-rich Marib, army commandership said.

Concerning field developments, a military source revealed the movement of the National Army forces, during the next few days, will be in full control coup-held Nihm District, and will advance deeper into Sana’a.

In 2014, Iran-aligned Houthi militias and armed loyalists backing ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh staged a full-on coup, wreaking havoc nationwide.

Since then, the internationally recognized government led by President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi had joined forces with Arab and international parties in hopes of restoring peace and stability to Yemen.

A Saudi-led Arab coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to help the government retake the capital Sana’a.

7 Qaeda Militants Killed in US Raid in Yemen

Yemen

US Special Forces killed seven al-Qaeda militants during an intelligence-gathering raid against their compound in Yemen on Tuesday morning, US officials said.

US Central Command said in a statement the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants were killed “through a combination of small-arms fire and precision air strikes” in the Marib governorate, with the support of the Yemeni government.

“Raids such as this provide insight into AQAP’s disposition, capabilities and intentions, which will allow us to continue to pursue, disrupt, and degrade AQAP,” the statement said.

Two US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters separately that there were no known US casualties and the raid was carried out 40-45 km (25-30 miles) north of another US raid that took place in late January.

One of the US officials said there were no immediate reports of civilian casualties in the raid.

According to Yemeni officials, the raid took place in the al-Sirim area in Marib in the early morning hours. Tribal members said explosions were heard in al-Sirim, followed by helicopters and gunfire.

Helicopters landed in the outskirts of the town of Jouba near al-Sirim, which is known as one of al-Qaeda’s hideouts and which has been targeted by a series of airstrikes in the past month that reportedly killed six al-Qaeda militants.

According to the officials, there was also bombing in nearby Bayda province. The officials and the tribesmen spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to talk to reporters. They also did not have any specifics on casualties.

The January operation, the first of its kind authorized by US President Donald Trump, was hailed as a success by the White House and other US officials.

However, critics questioned the value of the mission after a US Navy Seal was killed. Women and children, as well as several militants, were also killed in the raid.

Over 75 US airstrikes carried out since the beginning of the year have reflected an almost double increase in the yearly totals since the drone program against al-Qaeda in Yemen began in 2009, according to analysts.

The group boasts one of the world’s most feared bomb makers, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, and AQAP has been a persistent concern to the US government since a 2009 attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day.

The militant group has also taken advantage of a civil war pitting the Iran-aligned Houthis against the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to try to widen its control and influence in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country, one of the poorest in the Middle East.

Yemen Security Forces Seize ‘Spy Drones’ Delivering Houthis

People gather at the scene following an attack by a suicide bomber who drove a car laden with explosives into a compound run by local militias in the port city of Aden, Yemen on Aug. 29, 2016. REUTERS

Aden, Ma’rib-Yemeni security forces seized a commercial truck carrying spy drones on its way to the Houthi rebels, according to a Yemeni military official.

The truck was caught in the province of Ma’rib, which is largely under the influence of the Yemeni government, with Houthi presence remaining in pockets of the province.

Before it was caught, the truck was on its way to the Houthi held capital city of Yemen, Sana’a.

The drones were reportedly hidden beneath the truck that was carrying car parts and electricity motors, according to Colonel Nasser al-Tariq.

The rebels “use drones to spy on national army positions and opposition forces on the battlefield,” he said.

The latest development comes just a week after a report released by a UK-based independent research group suggested an arms pipeline running from Iran, through Somalia and Yemen, is arming Houthi rebels.

Conflict Armament Research (CAR) suggested in the newly-released report that a significant number of Iranian arms are being transferred to Yemen using dhows.

Moreover, Yemeni military forces in Ma’rib announced on Monday that they found a network of mines and improvised explosive devices in the form of stones planted by Houthi and Saleh militias in areas that connect Ma’rib with al-Bayda’ east Yemen.

Moreover, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that security forces in Ma’rib have busted a terrorist cell composed of four people trying to plant explosives in the center where soldiers receive their salaries.

Sources did not give further information about the cell members or the investigation process.

In the south of the country, Yemeni police forces defused on Monday an explosive-laden car that was found parked in a residential neighborhood in Aden province.

Residents of the neighborhood of Mu’alla reported to security agencies in Aden that they found a booby-trapped car, according to a senior official.

Police bomb disposal technicians arrived at the scene and defused the explosives after moving the booby-trapped vehicle to a safe place.

The incident comes two days after a suicide bomber of the Yemen-based affiliate of the ISIS group struck an army base near Aden’s international airport, leaving 50 pro-government soldiers dead and more than 40 others injured.

The ISIS suicide bomber disguised with military uniform blew himself up as hundreds of soldiers gathered to receive their delayed monthly salaries, according to local sources.

The southern port city of Aden is the headquarters of Yemen’s internationally-backed President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and his government.

Marib: Dozens Killed and Injured in Explosion at Major Shadady’s Funeral

An explosion targeting the funeral of a military commander took place in the Yemeni city of Marib, east of the capital Sanaa, yesterday. The explosion took place as people paid their respects to Major General Abdulrab Al-Shadady, a military commander in the national army. Six people were killed and twenty were wounded in the blast that occurred just one week after a similar explosion that targeted the funeral hall where people were paying their respects to the Al-Ruwaishan family in Sana’a took place.

Sources say that an explosive device was planted in a tent outside Major General Al-Shadady’s house in Marib. At least 6 people were killed and twenty injured. Among those killed in Friday’s blast were Major General Al-Shadady’s older brother Salem Al-Shadady and Mohammed Nasser Murshid Shurayf, who is the cousin of Sana’a’s governor General Abdul Qawiyy Shurayf.

The vice governor of Marib Abd Rabbo Miftah told Asharq Al-Awsat “The authorities have opened an investigation into the explosion. The funeral gathering that took place yesterday was held in a small tent in front of Al-Shadady’s house after the end of the official funeral”. He did not rule out the possibility that specific parties that he did not name “exploited weak-minded people” so that they would “plant two explosive devices inside the tent”.

Coalition Intercepts Houthi Missiles including one that Targeted a Funeral in Marib

Riyadh, Aden-The Arab Coalition forces intercepted on Sunday two ballistic missiles launched by Houthi militias toward the Marib province, east of Sana’a.

One of the missiles was targeting the funeral of commander of the Third Military Region in Marib, Abdel Rab al-Shadadi, who was killed during fighting with Yemeni rebels at the Sawaref front last Friday.

Sources who had attended the funeral told Ashaq Al-Awsat that one of the three missiles launched on Sunday was intercepted and destroyed, without causing any damage.

Yemeni Vice President Lieutenant General Ali Mohsen al Ahmar said during the funeral: “Al-Shadadi and his comrades had sacrificed their lives for the sake of the nation, security and stability, and for defending the revolution, the Republic and the legal constitution.”

Last week, rebel militias increased ballistic missile attacks against military targets in the city of Marib and the border villages with Saudi Arabia.

They have also launched ballistic missiles from areas located near Al-Hada district from the side of Marib, which is considered the most important headquarters of the National Army and the Popular Resistance.

Meanwhile, the leadership of the Arab Coalition forces expressed its deepest condolences and support to the families of the victims of the explosion that targeted the Great Hall in Sana’a on Saturday.

Head of the Arab Coalition’s Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) Lieutenant-General Mansur al-Mansur said that the group had already launched an investigation to determine the party behind the attack.

The coalition confirmed last week that its troops have clear instructions not to target populated areas and to avoid civilians.

The coalition said it would immediately investigate this case along with the JIAT in Yemen.

Coalition: Ballistic Missile Intercepted in Yemen

A ballistic missile fired early Tuesday towards the central Yemeni city of Ma’rib has been intercepted, a Saudi-led military coalition battling Houthi insurgents in the country said.

The missile was “destroyed with no damage” after its launch at around 12:15 am, a statement from the pro-legitimacy forces said.

“Coalition air forces immediately responded by destroying the missile launching pad,” it said.

Ma’rib, controlled by forces loyal to Yemen’s recognized government, is east of the capital Sanaa, which remains in the hands of Houthis.

This was at least the third missile launch since United Nations-brokered peace talks began in Kuwait in April between the government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and the insurgency delegation.

Saudi Arabia has deployed Patriot missile batteries to counter tactical ballistic missiles which have been fired occasionally during the war.

UN Delegation in Taiz to Check Out Humanitarian Crisis

UN Delegation in Taiz to Check Out Humanitarian Crisis
UN Delegation in Taiz to Check Out Humanitarian Crisis

Yemen’s National Army Forces and the Popular Resistance in Ma’rib are fighting fierce battles against Houthi militias and the forces of the former Yemeni President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to free Sirwah District and Jebel Hilan, the last stronghold of the rebels in Ma’rib, from the militias’ control.

Sources from the Popular Resistance in Ma’rib told Asharq Al-Awsat that around 17 Houthi militants were killed in fierce battles and that arm buffers were destroyed by the coalition aircrafts. The sources confirmed that the Resistance announced that freeing these areas has only become a matter of time.

Meanwhile, and for the first time, a UN delegation has visited Taiz city, which has been under siege for the past seven months.

Sources from Taiz told Asharq Al-Awsat that the delegation has visited some of the neighborhoods and streets of the city, in addition to some hospitals that were destroyed by the bombing and closed due to lack of oxygen and sufficient medical supplies as a result of the blockade imposed on the city.

UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs led the delegation accompanied by officials from UNICEF and other aid organizations.

The spokesman for the military council in Taiz, Col. Gen. Mansour al- Hassani, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the UN delegation was provided with files on the violations done by the rebel militias, adding that the delegation promised this won’t be the last visit, and that it visited Taiz in order to provide humanitarian aid to the province.

Bahah on the Ma’rib Front, and Students in Sana’a Protest against Al-Houthi’s Visit

Yemenis
Yemenis
The Vice President and Prime Minister of Yemen Khaled Bahah inspects one of the fronts in Ma’rib with its governor Sultan Al-Arada (Reuters)

The Vice President and Prime Minister of Yemen Khaled Bahah paid a surprise visit to the Ma’rib governorate, east of the capital Sana’a yesterday. The visit by a high ranking government official was the first of its kind in the region since the outbreak of war in the country last year. Officials said that the purpose of the visit was to “examine the military preparations to cleanse the rest of the provinces of the coup militias”.

In a related incident, students of the Kuwait Secondary School in Sana’a protested against a visit to their school undertaken by the President of the Revolutionary Committee Mohammed Ali al-Houthi yesterday. Eyewitnesses added that the students of the school refused to repeat “Asurakh” (the motto of Ansar Allah) when they were requested to do so, and instead sang the national anthem and chanted “We sacrifice our souls and blood for you, Yemen”. A video tape taken shows the students throwing stones at al-Houthi.