Fighting escalates in Yemen after deadly Houthi attack

A Yemen military source said the army captured some 100 Houthi fighters in Naham.
Tuesday 21/01/2020
Government soldiers and other people inspect the site of a Houthi missile attack on a military camp’s mosque in Marib, Yemen January 20. (Reuters)
Government soldiers and other people inspect the site of a Houthi missile attack on a military camp’s mosque in Marib, Yemen January 20. (Reuters)

LONDON - After a Houthi missile attack killed over 100 Yemeni soldiers, pro-government forces have launched retaliatory attacks on the Iran-sponsored militia in what is viewed as a major escalation in the five-year war.

Pro-government troops launched attacks against rebel positions in Nahm near the capital Sana'a on January 20, killin 13 rebels, according to local media reports.

Among the dead was the leader of an armed group known as Abu Thabet al-Hashimi, the government-run Saba news agency reported.

The national armed forces, backed by coalition fighters, also launched a surprise attack on Houthi positions in the vicinity of Naham, resulting in the deaths of 23 rebels, the destruction of a vehicle and the shooting down of a drone, Saba news also reported.

A Yemen military source said the army captured some 100 Houthi fighters in Naham, according to privately-owned news website Al-Mashhad al-Yemeni. It added that the "Houthi militia suffered heavy losses.”

The military source also told Al-Mashhad al-Yemeni that the "national army managed to circumvent the Houthi militants' move on the strategic Mount Hailan with the aim of cutting off the road between Marib and Naham," with the army besieging the Houthi advance and engaging them with "various types of medium and heavy weapons."

The retaliatory move came after one of the Houthis' deadliest attacks since the beginning of the war. 

Ballistic missiles smashed into a mosque in a training camp in the central province of Marib in the attack killing over 100 and wounding at least 68, Abdu Abdullah Magli, spokesman for the Yemeni Armed Forces told the Associated Press.

United Nations Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths condemned this incident and other stepped-up airstrikes and missile and ground attacks around the country.

“The hard–earned progress that Yemen has made on de-escalation is very fragile. Such actions can derail this progress”, Griffiths said, while urging parties to direct their energies into politics and away from the battlefront, according to Reuters. 

US Ambassador to Yemen Christopher Henzel also condemned the Houthi attack and urged all parties to “de-escalate military activities immediately” and “to work together on a political solution.”

(With news agencies)