Yemen's pro-government forces prepare for 'final liberation' of Taiz
Preparations are reportedly underway for a decisive battle to liberate Yemen's city of Taiz from Houthi militias and pro-Saleh forces, senior commanders have said.
Backed by Popular Resistance forces and led by Commander Hamoud Said al-Mikhlafi, pro-government forces supporting Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi have managed to defeat Houthi militias, pushing them out of the city of Taiz all the way to its northern outskirts.
This victory comes only two weeks after the beginning of the city's liberation battle, likely to escalate and end in the coming few weeks.
In response to this advancement, Houthi militias and pro-Saleh forces intensified their indiscriminate shelling of residential neighbourhoods and the countryside, only a few days after the Yemeni government announced the province of Taiz a "disaster area".
The chief of the Yemeni military council, Sadeq Sarhan, told al-Araby al-Jadeed that he discussed the details of the next phase of the liberation battle with Hadi, adding that the Yemeni government had agreed with the Saudi-led Arab coalition to provide land and air support.
According to Sarhan, senior army commanders are supervising training camps, preparing thousands of troops for the final battle.
The military council chief also said there was a military plan aiming to rid the city of Houthi militias and Saleh loyalists, and that it included damage-control among civilians and pro-government forces.
In an earlier statement, the spokesperson for the Arab coalition, Ahmed Assiri, said that the coalition would intensify airstrikes on Houthi strongholds, from where indiscriminate rocket attacks are launched, targeting residential areas in Taiz.
A senior figure in the pro-government forces told al-Araby al-Jadeed on conditions of anonymity that the military council and the resistance coordination council had completed their preparations for the final phase of the liberation battle, adding that the campaign is waiting for final orders from senior commanders in the Yemeni government, in coordination with the Arab coalition.
Pro-Saleh militias have recently lost 35 fighters and three armoured vehicles during violent battles in the western areas of the city.
They have also intensified the planting of landmines in some areas of the coastal city of al-Mukha to slow down pro-government forces.
Several sources have confirmed that pro-government forces had dealt severe blows to Houthi militias in their strongholds in northern Taiz, killing dozens and wounding others.
The Arab coalition intensified its airstrikes on Houthi strongholds in Taiz and sent drones to perform a full scan of the area, according to a military source with ties to the Yemeni government in Riyadh.