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Yemen: Volunteer forces retake southern province from Houthis, Saleh loyalists
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Yemeni Popular Resistance forces loyal to President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi pose atop and in front of a tank after recapturing the Al-Dalea province in southern Yemen, on May 25, 2015. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Yemeni Popular Resistance forces loyal to President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi pose atop and in front of a tank after recapturing the Al-Dalea province in southern Yemen, on May 25, 2015. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat—After two months of intense fighting, Popular Resistance forces loyal to Yemen’s internationally recognized President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi have recaptured the southern Al-Dalea province from Houthi militias and forces loyal to ousted former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Yemeni tribal sources from the Popular Resistance—which includes tribal and other civilian volunteers—told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday the forces were now in “complete control” of “99 percent” of the province.

Al-Dalea has for months largely been under the control of militias belonging to the Shi’ite Houthi movement, who spread across Yemen last year following their takeover of the capital Sana’a, then launching a coup in February.

The sources said they had coordinated with the leader of the southern branch of the Popular Resistance, who had informed them his units had also captured military equipment belonging to the Houthis and Saleh loyalists including tanks and rocket launchers.

Alongside Iran, Saleh is accused by Saudi Arabia, its Arab allies, as well as the international community of aiding the Houthi coup, through members of the army and security establishment still loyal to him.

Saleh was ousted in 2012 following mass protests against his more-than-three-decade rule.

Al-Dalea’s main security complex is also now under the control of the Popular Resistance, the sources said.

The volunteer forces have also made progress against the Houthis and Saleh loyalists in the nearby Shabwah province, according to sources there.

A local source from the Resistance told Asharq Al-Awsat this was made possible by the support the fighters received from the Saudi-led aerial campaign targeting the Houthis.

The campaign, Operation Decisive Storm, was launched on March 26 after President Hadi sought assistance from Arab allies to restore political legitimacy to Yemen following the Houthi coup.

“Coalition airstrikes have performed incredibly well and have helped us [the Popular Resistance] to exhaust the [Houthi] rebels, who never seem to hesitate to use any kind of weapon against civilians,” the source, who requested anonymity for safety reasons, said.

“We must be completely honest, without the help from the Saudi-led airstrikes things in Yemen would have gotten much worse than they currently are. The [Houthi] rebels and Saleh’s militias do not respect the ballot box, they only think of themselves and their own interests. Otherwise how can one explain the interference of Iran in this situation, a country which has no relation to us whatsoever?”

The progress made in Shabwah comes after Saudi-led airstrikes targeted Houthi positions in the province on Monday morning following marked attempts by the Houthi militias and Saleh loyalists to spread throughout the area earlier on Friday.

Abu Faris Al-Diwali Al-Awlaqi, the leader of one of the local Popular Resistance forces in Shabwah, told Asharq Al-Awsat via telephone that clashes had continued into Monday evening but that the Houthi fighters had eventually withdrawn.

He said the withdrawal showed the Houthis were “breaking” in the area and would count as a “severe blow to their forces’ morale” there.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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