Following the pro-Houthi military takeover of the strategic Al-Labnat military base in Al-Jawf province in late March and the Al-Khanjar camp earlier last month from Saudi-backed mercenaries, military spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Saree announced on Wednesday the end of the military operation in the province, codenamed "Fa'amkan Minhum".
Saree explained, in a statement to Al-Masirah, the importance in the liberation of Al-Labnat in particular, as "it was the last stronghold of Saudi-led coalition forces in Jawf province, which is a key to Ma'rib province."
According to Saree in terms of population, 95 per cent of Al-Jawf is now under the control of the Houthi-allied army, including 11 of the 12 districts. The Khab Washaaf district in the east is mostly desert and sparsely populated.
At one time Al-Jawf served as a hotbed for Al-Qaeda in addition to being a stronghold of mercenaries fighting on behalf of Saudi-based, Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. Last week the Houthi movement announced it had captured a base belonging to an Al-Qaeda affiliate, showcasing the material and supplies seized.
Saree also indicated up to 3,500 square kilometres – essentially the entire Hazm Desert and some parts of the Khub Washaaf district had been liberated.
Yahya Sari' announced the end of the operation "Fa'amkan Minhom". #فأمكن_منهم
During the Last phase of the operation "Fa'amkan Minhom", ~ 3500 km2 were liberated in southwest of al-Jawf #الجوف province.
— IWN (@A7_Mirza) April 29, 2020
All that remains of pro-Hadi fighters in the north of the country is Marib city. The western part of the province is already under the control of the Houthi forces who are gradually moving towards the provincial capital from several fronts. The progress has been made despite the Saudi-led air coalition carrying out more than 256 raids on Al-Jawf during the period from the end of March to the beginning of last month, according to the army spokesman, who yesterday vowed the coalition forces "will be met with an appropriate and painful response".
Speaking to MEMO yesterday, Saleh Alnoud, the UK spokesperson for the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC), which recently declared self-rule from the Saudi-supported Yemeni government, said: "If the Houthis take over Marib it will weaken the Hadi government further." Alnoud does not see the coalition being able to continue the war should this happen.