CAIRO (AP) – Yemeni international militants have seized the entire southern region of Shabwa from Iranian-backed Houthi militants, officials said Tuesday. The situation is tense for the rebels after government forces earlier this month made significant progress in the south of the country.
The government, with the help of pro-government forces, the Giants Brigades, and airstrikes from the Saudi-led coalition, passed through Shabwa this month, restoring the entire region to a 10-day war, officials said.
A military spokesman, Mohammed al-Naqib, said he had achieved “every goal” by pushing the Houthis into the Ain, Usailan and Bayhan counties.
Gov. Awad al-Awlaki also announced the “release of Shabwa,” thanking Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – which provide funding for a Saudi-led coalition operation against the Houthis.
There were no recent comments by the Houthis, but two rebel leaders admitted to The Associated Press that they had failed to control Shabwa. The militants fled to the central regions of Bayda and Marib, the two said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to speak to reporters.
Taking Shabwa will help government forces reduce the number of major avenues to help the Houthis, who have been attacking the capital city of Marib, the last state base in northern Yemen, since early last year. The militants have repeatedly repeated UN and US efforts to prevent a Marib attack, as well as an attack on cannons and drones in Saudi Arabia.
UN-led efforts on negotiations have failed to move forward with years of conflict in Yemen. The civil war began in 2014, when the Houthis seized the capital Sanaa, as well as much of northern Yemen, forcing the government to flee to the south, and then to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi-led coalition, backed by the US, entered months of war later in an attempt to overthrow the government.
The conflict has turned into a civil war that has killed thousands of civilians and civilians. The war also brought with it the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world, with millions of people suffering from food shortages and medical malpractice.