Yemen's pro-gov't forces repel Houthi attack in western coast areas

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-04 01:30:13|Editor: yan
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ADEN, Yemen, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- Yemen's pro-government forces repelled Wednesday an attack by the Shiite Houthi fighters in the western coast areas in Hodeidah province, killing at least 16 attackers, a military official told Xinhua.

Scores of well-armed Houthi fighters at noon attacked the positions held by government forces near Hodeidah province, sparking an intense fighting in the area, the source said on condition of anonymity.

Some of the Houthi fighters used motorcycles for the first time and a number of snipers were deployed in the outskirts of Hodeidah when they attacked the government-controlled positions, the source said.

According to the source the warplanes of the Saudi-led Arab coalition intervened and provided support for the government forces on-ground by carrying out heavy aerial bombardment against the Houthi positions and armored vehicles.

Several areas near the strategic Houthi-controlled port city of Hodeidah have been the scene of fierce fighting after the government forces pushed into the province and managed to capture a foothold into some of its key areas.

Meanwhile, the Saudi-backed Yemeni troops and allied anti-Houthi fighters continued their battles in the agricultural areas of Hays in the southern parts of Hodeidah, in an attempt to free the town from the Houthi militants, an army commander told Xinhua by phone.

During the day, battles in and around the farms located in Hays area continued as the government troops faced fierce resistance from the Shiite Houthi fighters in the city's entrances, the army source said.

The pro-government army commander near the scene added that the advance is expected to be slow due to the hundreds of hidden bombs or landmines believed to be planted by the Houthis and also the forces have received orders to spare the lives of civilians trapped there.

The Saudi-backed Yemeni government troops and allied militias have currently been fighting for weeks to reclaim key cities and towns in located along the country's western coast and from Houthis, who attempted to impede the advancement by recruiting hundreds of young fighters from the same areas to join fighting with them.

Observers said that the Shiite Houthi leaders kidnapped hundreds of young people from their schools and forced them to participate in the fighting against the forces of the internationally-backed government.

The Saudi Arabia-led military coalition has intensified military air campaign against Houthi positions in and around the Houthi rebels-held capital Sanaa and other northern provinces since Houthis killed former President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Dec. 4.

The coalition has intervened in the Yemeni conflict in March 2015 to roll back Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels, and backed internationally recognized President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi whom Houthis forced into exile in Saudi Arabia.

The war has killed over 10,000 Yemenis, mostly children, displaced 3 million, and triggered the world's most humanitarian catastrophe.

Tensions have escalated in Sanaa and other northern provinces after Houthis killed their top ally strongman Saleh after he changed alliance and backed the anti-Houthi coalition.