At least 23 Shi'ite rebels, 13 regular soldiers killed in battle of Taiz. The Houthis conquer a Saudi outpost in the border region of Jizan. Fighting continues in the mountainous Kahbub region, which dominates the entrance to the Red Sea. After losing four soldiers, Qatar sends moe men and means to strengthen its presence on the ground.
Sana'a (AsiaNews / Agencies) – At least 40 people have been killed in intense fighting between Houthi Shia rebels and pro-government forces around the Yemeni city of Taiz, the most important town in the southwest of the country.
Colonel Sadeq al-Hassani, a spokesman of the loyalist forces, confirmed the 13 casualties among their own soldiers; at least 23 dead among the Houthis during the siege attempt launched by Shiite rebels on the city.
In recent days, the Houthis took a military outpost of the Saudis in the border region of Jizan. The militiamen attacked the area with artillery shells, rockets and light weapons, and forced the Saudi soldiers stationed in defense of the bastion.
A second battle is also being waged in the governorate of Taiz, in the mountainous Kahbub; an area of strategic importance, overlooking the Strait of Bab al-Mandab at the entrance of the Red Sea. There have been at least five victims between the Houthis, centered by air raids and artillery strikes unleashed by the Arab coalition soldiers to the Saudi leadership.
Meanwhile, Qatar has sent a thousand soldiers to strengthen the Arab coalition ranks, which in recent times has suffered setbacks on the ground. In addition to troops, Doha has sent 200 armored vehicles and 30 Apache helicopters to the region. The Qatari forces, which in recent hours have seen the loss of four soldiers on the battle ground, are heading to the province of Maareb to join the fighting raging in the area. Qatar also plans to send more troops and resources.
Since January 2015, Yemen has been the scene of a bloody internal conflict pitting the country’s Sunni leaders, backed by Riyadh, against Shia Houthi rebels, close to Iran.
In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition began air strikes against the rebels in an attempt to free the capital Sana'a and bring back then exiled President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi. So far the air campaign – criticised by the UN - has killed at least 6,600 people, mostly civilians and many children. At least 2.5 million people have been displaced from their homes.
For Saudi Arabia, the Houthis, allied to forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, are supported militarily by Iran, a charge that Tehran rejects.
Extremist groups linked to al Qaeda and jihadist militias linked to Islamic State are active in the country, a fact that has helped escalate violence and terror.