Al Mukalla: Humanitarian aid supplies from the UAE Red Crescent have begun to trickle into the liberated Hays town in Hodeida province as people returned to their homes and students to schools, the governor of Hodeida told Gulf News on Wednesday.
Backed by massive air support from the Saudi-led coalition and Emirati boots on the ground, Yemeni government forces seized control of Hays town on Monday, a key urban area in Hodeida, after fierce clashes with the Iran-backed Al Houthi militia. The liberation of Hays adds to a series of territorial gains by government forces in the current offensive along Yemen’s long western coastline.
Al Hassan Taher, the governor of Hodeida who visited Hays on Wednesday, said government forces had halted their advance to secure the town from possible Al Houthi counterattacks, and to clear landmines. “We are moving slowly to protect liberated areas from falling into anarchy. In Hays, we have deployed security forces, distributed aid and have started removing landmines,” the governor said by telephone after returning from Hays. The ultimate goal of the ongoing operations along the Red Sea areas, which began early last year, is to expel Al Houthis from Hodeida, a major coastal city under Al Houthi control.
Commenting on the military significance of Hays, the governor said the town is located in the middle of key roads that link the city of Hodeida with Taiz, Ibb and Khokha, adding that liberation of Hays will place government forces closer to other Al Houthi-held areas in Hodeida province, like Al Jarrahi, the historical Zabid and Bayt Al Faqih. “Our next target is Al Jarrahi, but not before bringing back peace and security to Hays,” Taher said.
The governor said the UAE military played a pivotal role in the current offensive; its air support, officers on the ground and military logistics helped government forces get the upper hand on the battlefield. “The UAE military forces are the main supporters of our forces in their offensive against Al Houthi militia,” he said.
The governor said Yemeni and UAE sappers are clearing roads, houses, schools and farms of landmines and booby traps planted by Al Houthis. “They [Al Houthis] covered every inch of land on the Red Sea coast with landmines,” he said. Local media outlets recently reported a family of three was killed when a landmine planted by Al Houthis ripped through their motorbike in Yakhtul region in Hodeida province.
The Defence Ministry said dozens of Al Houthi militiamen have been killed in clashes with government forces in Hays.