Houthis Retake Positions in South Yemen

Houthis Retake Positions in South YemenHouthis Retake Positions in South Yemen

Houthi forces retook positions in southern Yemen to advance on second city Aden, military sources said on Sunday as a landmine blast killed 16 soldiers east of Sana›a.

The Houthis regained the positions they had lost in fighting in recent months, including a hilltop overlooking the strategic Al-Anad airbase in Lahj province which borders Aden, they sources said.

The base currently houses Sudanese forces from a Saudi-led coalition that has been battling Houthis across Yemen since March, AFP reported.

The deployment near Al-Anad «poses a real danger to pro-Hadi and coalition forces», a military source said.

Military sources said the Yemeni Houthis also retook Damt, the second city in Daleh province, after besieging it for hours on Saturday and clashing with loyalist troops.

At least 16 people, including nine loyalists, were killed in the clashes and many wounded, the sources said.

Forces fighting in support of fugitive president Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi «were forced to withdraw from the city», one of the sources said.

The Houthis also seized a military base in the coastal city of Dhubab, near the Bab Al-Mandab strait, following clashes with pro-government troops, another military source said.

Six loyalists and 11 Houthi fighters were killed.

Pro-Hadi troops seized Dhubab early last month, giving them effective control of Bab Al-Mandab, through which much of the world›s maritime traffic passes.

Late Sunday, 16 pro-Hadi soldiers were killed and six wounded when a landmine exploded as their vehicle passed in the city of Marib, east of the capital Sana›a, a military source said.

The blast took place on the road to the Sahn military base northwest of Marib, the source added.

Loyalists are in control of Marib while Sana›a is in the hands of Houthi forces who are also allied with forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The United Nations says that around 5,000 people have been killed in Yemen›s conflict since it escalated in March.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon was leaving for Saudi Arabia on Sunday amid a new push by the world body for peace talks in Yemen.

The United Nations is hoping to announce next week a date for talks between the government and Houthis.

All major combatants have publicly agreed to implement UN Security Council Resolution 2216, which calls on Houthi and Saleh forces to withdraw from the country›s main cities.

But while Hadi and the coalition have previously demanded that this happen before talks begin, the Houthis and Saleh want talks to address the mechanism for implementing Resolution 2216.