Yemeni Joint Forces backed by the Arab Coalition launched on May 11, 2018, a battle to liberate Hodeida and regain control of its strategic port from the Houthis. The operation was launched after Yemeni forces secured areas in the west and southwest of Taiz and cutting supply lines to Houthis that have suffered major blows in ever-shrinking pockets of land.
The Yemeni Joint Forces launched a wide operation from two axes towards Hodeida in the north and towards Al-Jarrahi and At Tuhayta. Hundreds of troops from the Tehami resistance, the Giant Brigades and the National Resistance led by Tariq Mohammad Abdullah Saleh, mounted a joint offensive against the Houthis in Al-Tuhayata and Al-Jarrahi in Hodeida province and Kahboub and Al-Wazyia west of the city of Taiz.
Abdul Raham Hajari, the commander of Tehami resistance, said his forces stormed Al-Hayma seaport in the district of At-Tuhayata on the Red Sea after heavy clashes with the Iran-backed Houthis who fled to populated areas in the district’s center.
A number of Houthi commanders have been killed in the battles on the west coast and Al-Bayda. Yemeni forces regained control of Kahboub mountainous area.
The battle coincided with the visit of Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and his deputy Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar to the headquarters of the joint leadership of the Arab Coalition in Riyadh to receive a briefing on battlefield developments.
Hadi commended the role played by Saudi Arabia and UAE within the Coalition, official sources said. He also lauded their accuracy and speed, which are essential factors in the success of military operations.
The Yemeni president was briefed on the operations and met with Lt. Gen. Fahd bin Turki bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, the commander of the Joint Forces, who stressed joint efforts to achieve the objectives of the Decisive Storm and Restoring Hope operations.
Early last year, Yemen’s army, backed by the Saudi-led coalition, launched a major military offensive aimed at ousting the Houthis from the country’s long western coast and securing the strategic Bab al-Mandab Strait against Houthi missile attacks. The final destination of the offensive is the city of Hodeida, the last major coastal city under their control.
In April 2018, Yemeni forces captured the town of Al-Jarrahi in the western province of Hodeida as government forces press to advance deeper into Houthi territory in the province. Coalition fighter jets carried out dozens of air sorties in Hodeida province, hitting Houthi gatherings and equipment and killing dozens of rebels, including field commanders. At least 100 Houthis have been killed in fierce clashes with government forces or in airstrikes by Saudi-led coalition combat aircraft.
The May 11, 2018 offensive was aimed at seizing control of the two districts in Hodeida and setting the stage for another larger offensive on the western city of Hodeida, the last major coastal area under control of the Houthi militias.
Cooperation between Yemeni factions and the death of senior Houthi commanders contribute to the government forces success. Houthis’ major battlefield setbacks are linked to the death of several military and political leaders in Saudi-led air strikes. The death of Saleh Al Sammad, the president of the Houthi Supreme Political Council, who was killed in an airstrike in April 2018, was a big blow to the Houthis.
Since the beginning of 2018, Yemen’s army and the Saudi-led coalition have opened new fronts inside Saada, the Houthis’ main bastion that hosts their major arsenal of ballistic missiles and key leaders. The pressure in Saada has prevented the Houthis from sending reinforcements to other fronts, including the Red Sea which helped government forces to advance there.
Thousands of elite Republican Guards and Special Forces that defected from Houthi ranks after the killing of Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s ousted president, in December 2017, are now fighting for government forces.
Government forces seized control of the Al Hayma seaport which has long been used by the Houthis for smuggling in arms and drugs. Government forces also stormed Kahboub mountains west of Taiz city after cutting off roads to pockets of Al Houthi militants and are now marching towards Al Ameri and Al Wazyia regions.
The resumed offensive in Hodeida and Taiz comes as government troops gained control of a large amount of land west of the city of Taiz, important supply lines to Al Houthi militants who shell government troops on the Red Sea coastline.
The Houthis are responding to defeats by increasing their ballistic missile attacks on Saudi Arabia to shore up the morale of their militiamen and to pretend they have the upper hand on the battlefield.