Troops loyal to Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi seized a Red Sea port town yesterday in the country’s northwest following fierce fighting with Iran-backed Shia rebels, a military chief said.
“We have full control of the port and the town, along with its historic castle,” Fifth Military Region commander General Adel al-Qumairi said of Midi.
Intensive clashes had raged in the area since mid-December when government forces trained in nearby Saudi Arabia crossed the border and seized the town of Haradh.
The rebels, known as Houthis, have reportedly used Midi’s port to bring weapons into their traditional stronghold in the north.
Despite losing Midi, they and their allies of renegade troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, continue to control a long stretch of the coastline.
Government forces have enjoyed air support from the Saudi-led coalition, which launched a campaign against rebels in March after they advanced on the southern city of Aden where Hadi had taken refuge before fleeing to Riyadh.
The rebels continue to control the capital, which they overran 2014, but loyalists have captured areas east and northeast of the capital recently.
yesterday, coalition warplanes bombed rebel positions in Sanaa, including the presidential complex, witnesses said.
The UN Security Council on Tuesday urged the warring parties in Yemen to resume a “meaningful, sustainable” ceasefire after a Saudi-led coalition ended a more than two-week-old truce amid accusations it had been repeatedly violated by both sides.
The ceasefire began on Dec 15 in tandem with UN-brokered peace talks. Nearly 6,000 people have been killed since the coalition entered the conflict in March, almost half of them civilians.
The coalition officially ended the truce on Saturday, saying it could not be maintained because of “the continuation of the Houthi militias and Saleh forces in violating it.” Yemeni troops loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh are fighting alongside the Houthis.
“The members of the council urged the parties to resume a meaningful, sustainable ceasefire that would be respected by all sides,” said Uruguay’s UN Ambassador Elbio Rosselli, who is president of the 15-member body for January. “For the members of the council this is of fundamental importance.”
The coalition began its military campaign to prevent the Houthis, whom it sees as a proxy for Iran, from taking complete control of Yemen after seizing much of the north last year. The Houthis accuse the coalition of launching a war of aggression.
“We all hope that the regional powers that have influence in Yemen will be responsible to enter into dialogue and to prevent the situation from impacting elsewhere,” said Rosselli, speaking in his national capacity.