Sanaa, Asharq Al-Awsat- Dozens from the al Houthi group and the Yemeni government forces have been killed after the fighting broke out between the two sides in a number of confrontations and battles in the exacerbated Saada province region, some 242 kilometers north of the capital Sanaa.
Local sources from Saada who are witnessing the third war [third year, the fighting broke out in 2004] between the two sides say that the Yemeni armed forces and security forces launched an attack on the al Houthi loyalists in Matrah, which lies within the Saada province, resulting in the death of approximately 70 rebels. There was no mention made of the casualties on the Yemeni government’s side.
According to local sources, army forces attacked al Houthi rebels in Matrah during a meeting which was held following the government seizing control of al Saifi province last week.
The same sources disclosed that the army forces clashed with the al Houthi rebels in the Jebal Jazi’ area where the rebels have sought fortified refuge in the Juma’at Bani Fadhel region. The Yemeni army has launched artillery and missiles attacks, which has resulted in the death of 30 rebels in these violent confrontations.
Sources revealed that the government has seized the home of Zaidi tribal chief and Shiaa cleric, Sheikh Badr al Din al Houthi (al Ab, epithet literally means ‘the father’) who the Yemeni authorities consider to be the spiritual and political godfather of al Shabab al Mo’min (Youthful Believers) movement. The Youthful Believers organization was established by Sheikh Badr al Din al Houthi’s son, Shiaa cleric Hussein al Houthi in the nineties.
Hussein al Houthi was killed in the first rebellion in the Jabal Maran area in September 2004 after the government launched its first sustained military campaign against the Zaidi rebels. The fighting lasted three months and resulted in the death of 500 troops from the government forces and the injury of 2,700, while the public treasury incurred a US $600 million loss. [The leadership of the organization was passed on to his father, Badr al Din, during the second surge of fighting in 2005].
Yemeni Prime Minister, Dr. Ali Mujawwar, confirmed the aforementioned figures in the most recent meeting held between political parties in which they discussed the present situation in Saada.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. Rashad al Alimi, in a meeting held between the military and security leadership and the heads of Saada province has stated that the time has come to bring about substantive development to the province. Al Alimi accused the al Houthis of bombing government buildings in the Razih, Ghamr and Qatabir districts, in addition to burning down and looting the hospitals and health centers of these areas.
Al Alimi has furthermore stated that these acts of sabotage and terrorism are evidence of this group’s ill will towards the Yemeni solidarity, unity, regime and republic. He indicated that the bombing of hospitals and health centers in the Razih district took place last Saturday and has moreover stated that it would be the last of such violent acts committed. The deputy prime minister has vowed to bring the al Houthi loyalists to justice in retribution for their crimes against the nation in general, and the security forces in particular.