Friday, October 17, 2014

Houthis continue advance in South Yemen and clash with Al-Qaeda

Shi'ite Houthi rebels ride a patrol truck in Sanaa in this October 9, 2014 file photo. REUTERS-Khaled Abdullah-Files
Houthi fighters (Photo Reuters)

Fierce battles between Al-Qaeda and Houthi militants erupted in Yemen's Baidha province on Thursday,  the Yemen Post reported. Local sources said that it was the second day of fighting since Houthi militants arrived in the town of Radda. The Houthis closed several roads leading to Radda in what appeared to be a plan to besiege the town and then raid it from all directions, one of the sources said.
Houthis arrived in Baidha as they continued to seize cities in other parts of the republic including the cultural capital of Taiz on Wednesday. Sources in Taiz said commander of the provincial Air Force Base Faisal Al-Subaihi has rendered his resignation after Houthis took control of Taiz Airport and some military camps.
Reuters reports that Houthi fighters have been making advances outside of Sanaa in recent days, taking over cities and towns with the apparent agreement of the authorities there, but clashing with some al Qaeda linked militants in central Yemen. The Shi'ite Muslim Houthis established themselves as Yemen's new powerbrokers last month, capturing Sanaa on Sept. 21 to little resistance from residents or from the weak administration of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Their ascendance has angered al Qaeda, which views Shi'ites as heretics and Houthis as pawns of Iran. Last week, the Yemeni group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed a suicide bombing on a Houthi gathering that killed at least 47 people.
Also Reuters reports that on Thursday a convoy of Houthi fighters trying to reach the town of Radda in al-Bayda province, 130 km south east of Sanaa, was blocked by fighters from Ansar al-Sharia, the local arm of AQAP and that heavy clashes were going on there, with various weapons, including RPGs. It was estimated that at least 10 Houthi fighters were killed, while on Tuesday in clashes between Houthis and Ansar al Sharia in Radda at least 12 people were killed.
Another convoy of several cars carrying Houthis was later seen on the outskirts of Taiz, a city 50 km south of Ibb. Al Qaeda said in a statement issued on Thursday that its fighters had on the previous day stormed the town Odein, near Ibb, killing three soldiers and holding it for nine hours to prevent the Houthis from taking over. In the most recent advances outside Sanaa, Houthis took control on Thursday of the small Red Sea port of Medi and al-Dawaymeh island, both near the border with Saudi Arabia. Earlier this week they took over the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, the second largest port in the Arabian peninsula nation after Aden, with the apparent agreement of the police, according to local officials.

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