Officials: Yemeni government retakes territory from rebels

Officials and tribal leaders say that forces of Yemen’s internationally recognized government have retaken swaths of territory from the Houthi rebels in the past days

SANAA, Yemen -- Forces of Yemen’s internationally recognized government managed to retake swaths of territory from the Houthi rebels in the past days, officials and tribal leaders from both sides said on Sunday.

Government forces earlier their month launched an offensive against rebel positions in the western Hajjah province, seizing control of over dozen villages in Abs district, they said. The move is part of a drive toward the key port of Hodeida, which handles about 70% of Yemen’s commercial and humanitarian imports.

Clashes also raged in the mountainous Maqbana area in the province of Taiz, as government forces attempted to join troops on Yemen’s western coast, the officials added.

The Saudi-led coalition also fighting against the Iranian-backed rebels launched several airstrikes on their positions in Hajjah and Taiz, they said.

More than four dozen fighters from the two sides were killed in Hajjah and Taiz in the past 24 hours, mostly from the Houthi side, they said, with over 100 others wounded.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media, while the tribal leaders did so for fear of reprisal.

The internationally recognized government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has apparently sought to open new fronts to force the Houthis to halt their weeks-long offensive on the central province of Marib, the government's last stronghold in Yemen’s northern half.

The rebels, however, did not make substantial progress on the ground, amid fierce resistance and heavy loses mostly from airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition, which countered the Houthi advance in Marib.

The offensive on Marib has threatened to deteriorate the already severe humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Marib is sheltering about a million Yemenis who have fled Houthi offensives elsewhere in the country.

Biden’s envoy to Yemen, Tim Lenderking, last week urged the Houthis to agree to a cease-fire proposal offered in recent days.

The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of the capital Sanaa by the Houthis. A Saudi-led coalition allied with the exiled Hadi has been fighting the rebels since March 2015.

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