Commanders loyal to former Saudi-backed President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi acknowledged on Saturday that the Houthis had retaken loyalist positions during renewed fighting east of Sana’a.
“Some of these positions had been under government control for three years,” said one of the commanders who was speaking on condition of anonymity, referring to the self-proclaimed Hadi administration.
Another pro-Hadi commander said that the Saudi planes had “attacked Houthi positions more than 30 times in the last three days to reduce the pressure on the loyalists.”
On Friday, the International Crisis Group, a Belgium-based think tank, said the Houthi fighters were making “the biggest gains” on the ground against militants.
“At the time of writing, the Houthis appeared to be making the biggest gains on the battlefield, reportedly controlling the important Nihm front north east of Sana’a after several days in which both sides claimed a series of largely symbolic victories while suffering numerous casualties,” it said in a report.
Self-proclaimed defense minister for Hadi fighters, general Mohammed Ali al-Maqdishi, implicitly admitted Houthi advances in Nihm district.
At a meeting with loyalist commanders, he referred to what he called a “tactical withdrawal from some positions,” Saba news agency reported.
Maqdishi also claimed that the pro-Hadi militants would be redeployed to open a new front against the Houthis.
Recently, a missile attack on a military training camp run by the Riyadh-backed elements in Ma’rib Province killed 116 of them.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE blamed the attack on the Houthis, a claim rejected by the Yemeni fighters.
Yemen dismisses Saudi, UAE claim of Houthi role in deadly missile attack in Ma’rib Yemen’s Houthi movement says it had no role in a deadly missile raid that targeted pro-Riyadh militants in Ma’rib contrary to what Saudi Arabia and the UAE claim.
Saudi Arabia and a coalition of its vassal states launched the war on Yemen in March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall the Hadi regime and eliminate the Houthis.
The military aggression, coupled with a naval blockade, has killed hundreds of thousands of people and plunged Yemen into the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.