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Yemen Houthis seize strategic city bordering Saudi Arabia

March 2, 2020 at 1:21 pm

Houthi loyalists chant slogans during a rally to mark the fourth anniversary of the war on 26 March 2019 in Sana’a, Yemen [Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images]

Yemen’s Houthis have taken control of the city of Al-Hazm, the capital of Al-Jawf governorate, bordering Saudi Arabia, Anadolu reported military sources as saying yesterday.

The sources explained that the Houthis stormed the city and seized it after battles with government forces backed by Saudi Arabia.

According to the sources, the fighting resulted in deaths and injuries on both sides.

Houthi channels have reported that the entire Al-Jawf region is now in the group’s control.

The Yemeni ambassador to UNESCO, Muhammad Jumeh, blamed the city’s fall on “military and political leaders staying outside of Yemen and being engaged with side battles instead of defeating the coup”.

Maged al-Madhaji, executive director of the Sana’a Centre, a Yemeni think-tank, told AFP that the Houthis’ capture of Al-Hazm could be a game-changer.”Control of the capital of Al-Jawf could totally change the course of the war. Houthis have made an exceptional advance and are changing the balance” in their favour, he noted.

Read: Houthis unveil four new air defence systems

The Houthi-aligned Yemen Press Agency reported a security official saying that the Saudi-led coalition launched 25 air strikes on Jawf and Marib overnight.

In 2014, Iran-backed Houthis controlled Al-Hazm city, before government forces recaptured it in December 2015.

Al-Jawf is the third Yemeni governorate adjacent to Saudi Arabia to be under the control of Houthi forces along with the provinces of Saada and Hajjah.

At least 1,400 families, who were displaced into the district of Gail in Al-Jawf province had moved to Hazm earlier this month. “Now thousands more are expected to leave their homes” because of the Houthi advance, Fatima al-Asrar, a non-resident scholar at the Washington-based Middle East Institute, said.

Read: US claims Iran is stepping up support to Yemen’s Houthis