Al Mukalla: Yemeni forces, backed by the Saudi-led coalition, seized control of Khokha region on the Red Sea, 122km south of Hodeida city, after fierce clashes with Iran-backed Al Houthi militants, security and military officials said on Thursday.
Abu Zara’a Al Mouhrrami, the commander of Yemeni forces battling Al Houthis in the Red Sea areas, said in a statement on Thursday that his forces stormed Khokha, the first major coastal spot in Hodeida province after killing and injuring dozens of Al Houthis.
Taking advantaging of a growing anti-Al Houthi sentiment after their ruthless killing of ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s Ministry of Defence announced on Wednesday resuming a major push, that began earlier this year, to purge Al Houthis from major coastal posts on the Red Sea including the strategic city of Hodeida.
Photos circulated on social media on Thursday showed armed soldiers flashing victory signs as a convoy of armed vehicles crossed into Khokha.
Before storming Khokha, government forces seized control of a strategic mountain and a road that enabled them to cut off Al Houthi military supplies to the battlefield.
Commenting on the military significance of Khokha, Colonel Abdu Basit Al Baher, the deputy spokesperson of the Military Council in Taiz, told Gulf News that the liberation of Khokha would enable government forces and the Saudi-led to circle Hodeida from land and sea and would increasingly secure the shipping route of the Red Sea from Al Houthi missile or boat attacks.
“Many Al Houthi-driven suicide boats which target ships in the Red Sea sail from areas like Khokha,” Al Baher said.
“Taking control of Khokha would also help stem the flow of Iranian arms to Al Houthis as the area is known for being an entry point for arms.”
The Ministry of Defence says that the final stage of the current offensive would see the liberation of Hodeida city, the last coastal area under Al Houthis and an important source of finance to rebels’ coffers.
The Saudi-led coalition said last month that an Iranian-made missile fired by Al Houthi militants that targeted Riyadh was smuggled through Hodeida seaport.
Riyadh — which intercepted the missile — called it an ‘act of war’.
Military experts say that the offensive has succeeded in preventing Al Houthis from launching attacks on military or civilian ships in the Red Sea.
The Saudi-led coalition launched a military campaign in Yemen to shore up the internationally — recognised government and put an end to the militants’ rapid military expansion.
Government forces are now in control of almost of 80 per cent of Yemeni land but Al Houthis still control main population centres and their northern stronghold of Sa’ada.
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