Yemeni rebels lose key battleground area after missile attack on UAE

Published January 26, 2022
Yemeni pro-government fighters remove the remains of a plane from the district of Harib on Tuesday after Yemen's Houthi rebels were expelled from the key battleground district by UAE-trained Giants Brigade fighters. — AFP
Yemeni pro-government fighters remove the remains of a plane from the district of Harib on Tuesday after Yemen's Houthi rebels were expelled from the key battleground district by UAE-trained Giants Brigade fighters. — AFP

SHABWA: Yemen’s Houthi rebels were expelled from a key battleground district by UAE-trained Giants Brigade fighters, the militia said on Tuesday, a day after the insurgents’ latest missile attack on Abu Dhabi.

The Iran-backed Houthis lost Harib district south of Marib, the government’s last northern stronghold which they have been fighting to seize for months.

The Giants Brigade said “hundreds were killed and wounded on both sides” in battles that lasted for more than two weeks and also secured the neighbouring governorate of Shabwa. There was no immediate comment from the Houthis.

“We thank the Arab coalition for their support for our operations in Shabwa, which were crowned with complete success,” the Giants Brigade said in a statement, referring to a Saudi-led military alliance.

The clashes are part of a major escalation in the seven-year war after the Houthis, following a series of territorial defeats, launched a deadly drone-and-missile attack on the UAE last week.

The Saudi-led pro-government coalition that includes the UAE hit back with a series of air strikes, one of which killed at least three children and plunged Yemen into a four-day internet outage. Internet services were restored early on Tuesday.

In rebel-held Saada, an attack on a prison left at least 70 people dead and wounded more than 100, according to Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

The coalition denied being behind the prison attack, which the Houthis said had killed 91 people and injured more than 200, as they lined up the bodies covered in white sheets along the ground on Tuesday.

On Monday, the rebels renewed their attack on Abu Dhabi when two ballistic missiles were intercepted over the city, scattering debris.

US forces based at the capital’s Al-Dhafra air base fired Patriot missiles to help repel the attack, while some of them also scrambled to bunkers, US officials said.

The UAE, which pulled most of its troops out of Yemen in 2019 but maintains support and training for pro-government forces, warned of a “thorough and comprehensive response” to the cross-border attack.

“The UAE reserves the right to respond against these terrorist attacks and such blatant criminal escalation,” a foreign ministry statement said, adding that the Houthis had targeted “civilian areas”.

Two people were injured in southern Saudi Arabia by further rebel missile attacks on Monday.

UN officials on Tuesday said they were “alarmed by the escalating spiral of violence in Yemen that continues to harm civilians and is spilling over its borders”.

The prison attack is “the worst civilian-casualty incident in Yemen in three years”, the UN’s special envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg and its humanitarian coordinator for the country David Gressly said in a joint statement.

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2022

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