(Reuters) LONDON: As joint forces of the Arab coalition rapidly moved closer to Hodeidah, fighting in areas six kilometers away from the city’s airport intensified on Wednesday, military sources said.
Yemen’s army said units from the “rapid intervention forces” were currently positioned in Al-Durayhmi and were ready to enter the strategic port city of Hodeidah from the south.
Yemeni army spokesman Abdo Abdullah Majali told Asharq Al-Awsat on Wednesday that the rapid intervention forces are trained to fight inside small neighborhoods and hunt down Houthi militias hiding in fortified buildings. He added that they would work to clear these buildings in preparation for the army’s entry into Hodeidah and its liberation while ensuring that residents remained safe.
Majali added that the liberation of Hodeidah would help the army to advance on several other Yemeni cities because of its strategic position as a port city and its proximity to Taiz, Ibb, Al-Mahwit, Dhamar, and Hajjah.
At least 53 rebels died in fighting in Hodeidah on Wednesday while seven pro-government fighters were killed and 14 wounded, according to medical sources.
A military source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Houthi militias experienced heavy losses on fronts in the province of Saada as a result of confusion and panic.
The source added that these losses prevented the Houthis from sending military reinforcements to confront Arab coalition forces heading toward Hodeidah from the western coast.
In a phone call to Hodeidah’s governor on Wednesday, Yemen’s Prime Minister Ahmed bin Daghr praised the country’s army and the Popular Resistance for their competent role in confronting the Houthi militias which he said are losing strength every day.