The battle for Yemen's Taiz begins

The battle for Yemen's Taiz begins
Yemeni troops loyal to President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and Saudi-led coalition forces launched a drive on Monday to re-capture the rebel-held province of Taiz from Houthi rebels.
2 min read
16 November, 2015
Yemeni loyalists and Saudi-led coalition forces launched an offensive on Monday to re-take the key battleground province of Taiz from rebels, a military commander said.

The forces loyal to President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi have been pressing to re-capture parts of Yemen seized by the Houthi rebels who overran the capital last September and then advanced south.

They have been backed by a Saudi-led coalition that launched air raids in March and began a major counter-offensive in July.

"The military operation to liberate Taiz has begun after the arrival of military reinforcements from the Arab coalition, resistance forces and the national army in the south and west of Taiz province," General Ahmed al-Yafie, commander of the fourth military region, told AFP.

The region includes Taiz as well as Yemen's second city Aden further south.

Military officials have said the coalition sent major reinforcements before they advanced towards Taiz, Yemen's third biggest city seen as a gateway to controlling the rebel-held capital.

Armoured demining vehicles and other reinforcements arrived in the Shuraija region, between the loyalist-controlled Lahj province and Taiz in the southwest, said officials in the main southern city of Aden.

Sudanese forces from the al-Anad airbase in Lahj are taking part in the Taiz operations, according to the sources.

Taiz has seen heavy fighting in recent months between the Houthi rebels and forces of Hadi's internationally recognised government.

Loyalist forces are inside Taiz, while the rebels and troops loyal to former president Ali Abdallah Saleh control the main roads leading into the city.

Along the coast, coalition troops deployed in Dhubab in a bid to advance onto the rebel-held Red Sea city of Mocha, a part of Taiz province, the sources said.

On Sunday, military officials spoke of major coalition reinforcements of troops and equipment arriving to Taiz from Aden.

Meanwhile, three pro-government fighters and two rebels were killed in clashes an area on the border between Taiz and Lahj, military officials said, adding that loyalists managed to retake a hill overlooking the area.

This month, a 400-strong Sudanese force arrived in Aden in support of loyalist forces, joining 500 who arrived last month.

Some 5,000 people have been killed in the conflict since March, more than half of them civilians, according to the United Nations.

A new round of UN-brokered Yemen talks to end the conflict is expected to kick off in Geneva this month.