August 3–17: Resistance takes much of Taʻiz, coalition pushes inland

Fighting in the southern part of Yemen has expanded over the past two weeks, as Southern Resistance, Emirati, and coalition forces have advanced inland from Aden to drive Houthi/Saleh forces out of adjacent governorates. Locals in and around Aden have discovered thousands of landmines planted by the pro-Houthi/Saleh forces before they were driven out of the area. Coalition-trained Yemeni fighters, along with Saudi and Emirati soldiers, have pushed further into Abyan province after they captured the largest military base in al-Anad of Lahj province along with other bases nearby. Three Emirati soldiers were killed after their armored vehicle was hit by a landmine. Over 100 civilians were reportedly killed by landmines in the south. Demining teams are working quickly to clear the mines where possible.

With fighter jets and Apache helicopters providing air cover for battle tanks and other armored vehicles, the resistance and its allies launched the Abyan offensive to liberate the province. After four days of clashes, the coalition reported that it had entirely regained Abyan. The have already advanced on the neighboring province of Shabwa. According to some reports, however, Ansar al-Shariʻah-affiliated fighters led by Jalal Bilʻaydi, who commanded the AAS takeover of Abyan in 2012, entered and took control of Zinjibar as soon as Houthi/Saleh forces left the city.

President Hadi in Riyadh has issued a decree, appointing governors for the “liberated” governorates of Lahj and Abyan. On the other hand, the Houthi “Revolutionary Committee” in Sanʻa appointed deputy governors for a number of governorates.

Moreover, at least 11 cities were hit by the Saudi-led airstrikes during the last week. On Sunday, scores of people were reportedly killed in Ibb, Amran and Taʻiz.

Dragging on for the fifth month now, the war has so far claimed the lives of more than 4000 people, while the humanitarian and health situation is increasingly disastrous. ICRC President Peter Mauer arrived in the capital to assess the situation in Yemen. Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Mauer said that the months-long blockades imposed on all the country’s ports have led to “overwhelming catastrophic situations.”

Meanwhile, clashes in several cities including Taiz, Ibb, Marib and Dhalea cities have also intensified. Resistance fighters have gained ground, while dozens of pro-Houthi/Saleh forces were reportedly killed in the three fronts. On Sunday the 16th, resistance forces in Taʻiz reported significant gains in that city.

Across the borderline, pro-Houthi/Saleh units have intensified their missile attacks over the past week, hitting several military bases in Najran and Jaizan cities. Backed by armed tribesmen, the units reportedly advanced on a base outside Najran, killing at least 16 soldiers. The Saudi army claimed to have successfully repelled this attack on Sunday.

Pro-Houthi tribal loyalists have been mobilized in several cities as a matter of supporting the so-called ‘strategic options’, to which the Houthi top leader has referred in his recent televised speech.

In Sanʻa, Houthis arrested several Islah-affiliated figures including women. Meanwhile, clashes in the northern district of Arhab have erupted between pro-Islah armed tribesmen and Houthi fighters, shortly after the security services were put on high alert in the capital. Three days later, IS group carried out a car bomb in the north of Sanʻa that resulted in no casualties.

Facing both fierce resistance and financial crisis, the Houthis sent delegates to the Omani capital, Muscat, to participate in the ongoing political talks with all Yemeni factions. However, the exiled Yemeni government in Riyadh has announced that an initiative shall be brokered in the upcoming days for resuming the long-stalled political process.