Yemeni officials say the airport in the strategic port city of Hudaydah is still under the control of the Houthi Ansarullah movement, rejecting reports that the facility had fallen to the hands of Saudi-backed forces.
Yemen’s army spokesman Brigadier General Sharaf Luqman on Thursday dismissed claims that the invaders had gained ground in Hudaydah as he showed photos of enemy armored vehicles blown up in the city.
He also hailed the Yemeni fighters’ achievements in the country’s western coast as a “miracle.”
The Yemeni fighters, Luqman said, have been fighting against Daesh and al-Qaeda militants in Hudaydah’s al-Durayhimi district, and have surrounded all Saudi-backed forces and mercenaries in the al-Jah neighborhood.
The mercenaries have two choices, either to surrender or die, he pointed out.
Saudi-backed Yemeni forces, loyal to ex-president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, claim that they have seized the Hudaydah airport from the Houthi fighters.
His remarks came after Saudi commander Brigadier Abdul Salam al-Shehi claimed on Wednesday that the Hudaydah airport had been “completely cleared” and was “under control” of his forces.
Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam stressed that the aggressors had been defeated in Yemen’s western coast despite possessing numerous weapons and enjoying financial and media support.
He further described the invaders’ battle as “a mass suicide,” saying the offensive is aimed at killing Yemenis and end their sovereignty.
The Yemeni people will not give in to any pressure, Abdulsalam said, emphasizing that Houthi fighters had foiled the enemies’ “foolish” plots with a swift attack.
Separately, Mohammad al-Bukhaiti, a top figure in the Houthi movement’s Supreme Political Council, released a video from the Hudaydah airport that purportedly showed claims of the Saudi-backed forces’ presence there were false.
The enemies have suffered heavy blows and been forced to retreat eight kilometers off the airport, he added.
In the al-Duraihimi district, Bukhaiti said, 20 armored vehicles belonging to the Saudi-backed forces had been destroyed and 10 more seized. Yemeni drones had also destroyed six armored vehicles.
The Hudaydah airport lies just eight kilometers from the city’s port, through which three-quarters of Yemen’s imports pass, providing a lifeline for millions of people.
Yemenis down spy drone, Emirati reconnaissance plane
On Thursday, Arabic-language al-Masirah television network reported that Yemen’s air defense system had shot down an enemy spy drone in the northwestern Sa’ada province.
Also on Thursday, Yemeni sources said an Emirati reconnaissance plane was shot down near Saudi Arabia’s southwestern Jizan region, killing the crew.
They added that the plane was returning to its base after carrying out an aerial operation in Yemen’s western coast.
The media bureau of Yemen’s Operations Command quoted Yemeni military sources as saying that the Emirati jet, which had two pilots, was brought down by Yemeni air defense system.
Backed by Saudi-led airstrikes, Emirate forces and militants loyal to the former Yemeni government launched the Hudaydah assault on June 13 despite warnings that it would compound the impoverished nation’s humanitarian crisis.
The Houthis and allied armed forces, however, have managed to inflict heavy losses on the invaders.
The UN says fierce clashes in the port city have driven 5,200 families from their homes.
The Saudi-led coalition, which has been waging a war against Yemen since early 2015, claims that the Houthis are using Hudaydah for weapons delivery, an allegation rejected by the fighters.
Saudi Arabia has also imposed a blockade on Yemen, which has smothered humanitarian deliveries of food and medicine to the import-dependent state.
Several Western countries are supplying the Riyadh regime with advanced weapons and military equipment.