Dubai: Clashes between the Saudi-led Arab coalition and Al Houthi militants broke out in the surroundings of the presidential palace and the private security forces camp in the East of Taiz.
Al Houthis blew up several bridges in the mountainous southwestern Taiz province to hamper the advance of pro-government forces, military sources said Tuesday.
Government forces backed by air and ground support from the coalition launched an all-out offensive last week to push the militants out of Taiz and break the siege of loyalists in its provincial capital.
Taiz is seen as crucial for the recapture of other central provinces and for opening the way to the rebel-controlled capital Sana’a farther north.
It is also important for securing the south, where loyalists have retaken five provinces since July, including Aden, seat of the provisional government of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
The Al Houthis on Monday “blew up several bridges leading to Rahida to prevent the advance” of loyalist forces, said one of the sources in a reference to the province’s second-largest city.
Military officials said this week that landmines planted by the rebels have already been hampering the progress of government forces and had caused casualties.
Loyalist forces are now stationed 12 kilometres away from Rahida after they regained several positions in clashes that lasted until early Tuesday and left five militants and two pro-government fighters dead, according to the military sources.
In the neighbouring Lahj province, farther south, Hadi visited Al Anad airbase, where Yemeni and coalition commanders are deployed to supervise the Taiz offensive, a source at the presidency said.
“The visit is to oversee the military preparations to liberate Taiz,” the source said.
Meanwhile the coalition bombed locations where source are stationed in the West of Taiz.
According to a Sky News Arabia report, many militants were killed and injured in the coalition bombings. A number of clashes also broke out earlier between government forces and the Al Houthis and fighters loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh in Marib province in the North Western area of Sana’a, while reinforcements reached government forces in Taiz.
The Sky News Arabia correspondent said new clashes had broken in Marib, which Vice President Khalid Bahah is currently visiting.
The clashes started as government forces tried to charge into the Sarwah Directorate Centre.
Hadi’s visit to Al Anad is considered to be the first visit that the president has made to the base since he arrived in Aden at the beginning of this month