The joint forces battling the Iran-backed Houthis in western Yemen have taken full control of key areas between the provinces of Hodeidah and Taez.
A large-scale operation that began last Friday has led to big losses in the rebel ranks, said Aseel Assakladi, media centre director of the pro-government Al Amalika Forces.
“The joint forces seized control over new strategic areas in southern Hodeidah and Taez amid big collapses in the ranks of the Houthi militants,” Mr Assakladi told The National.
“Our troops backed [with] air cover from the Arab Coalition airplanes scored a new progress and took full control over the strategic mountain of Al Maghreb in Jabal Ras in south-eastern Hodeidah and controlled the mountainous chain of Al Rewiana and Attour in Macbana in western Taez province as well as Wadi Nakhlah in eastern Hays in southern Hodeidah.”
Mr Assakladi said the progress was made after “fierce clashes with the Houthi militants, who suffered big losses in the ranks of their fighters and equipment as well”.
He said 45 Houthi fighters were killed and more than 25 were captured during the fighting, which began last Friday.
Al Amalika forces launched a wide-ranging offensive and successfully controlled the Sakam intersection in southern Hays, cutting the Houthi supply route that feeds their fighters in Taez.
Advancing deep towards Taez province, the joint forces declared Hays as a liberated and fully secured area.
“Hays district was fully liberated and secured. Our demining team has removed all the mines and projectiles planted in the residential neighbourhoods and along the roads,” a military officer in the joint forces told The National.
Hundreds of families who fled Hays to camps for displaced people in the Al Khokhah district in southern Hodeidah or to Aden and Lahj provinces are gearing up to go back home after their districts were liberated and secured by the forces.
“We are eager to go back home. We are just waiting for the local authorities to re-function the healthcare centres and the schools,” said Rafiq Saleh, a resident from Hays displaced to Al Khokhah.
“We are really grateful to the heroes of the joint forces and the Arab Coalition air force who sacrificed to end our suffering.”
The large-scale offensive launched by the joint forces on Friday is expected to continue in a drive to expel the Houthi rebels from all Hodeidah, including the liberated district of Al Jarahi. Troops will keep advancing towards areas affiliated with provinces of Taez and Ibb, Mr Assakladi said.