Yemeni army reinforced in Sa’ada, fighting continues [Archives:2007/1044/Front Page]

April 23 2007

Mohammed bin Sallam
SA'ADA, April 22 ) Confrontations between the Yemeni army and Houthi loyalists in Sa'ada governorate continue, with no indication that the war will end soon. Further, more than 60,000 soldiers are amassed for a decisive battle, supported by fighter planes, tanks and other lethal weaponry, according to observers.

A tribal source mentioned, “The Yemeni army continues reinforcing its forces and equipment according to the extent of the clashes between both sides, which thus far has encompassed all of Sa'ada's 15 districts.”

The source added that while there were no more than 2,000 Houthis during the first and second Sa'ada wars, they have tripled and there's the possibility of their numbers increasing due to the expansion of the clashes. The fighters also now have more developed weapons and better training.

Al-Ayyam daily newspaper reported in its Sunday issue that a military unit comprising thousands of soldiers and dozens of military vehicles entered Al-Dhuliah area in Shadha district, located in the northernmost part of the Tihama plain. The forces crossed Hodeidah governorate and upon arriving in Al-Dhuliah, waged a violent attack against Houthi elements positioned on Bisbasah Mountain located between Razih and Ghamer districts near the Yemeni-Saudi border.

Sources further noted that clashes are continuing in Razih district's Al-Qal'ah area, where Houthis are besieging the district's administration buildings, adding that helicopters have been bombarding the area for many days, destroying two schools accommodating Houthi loyalists.

Eyewitnesses claim that Houthis are centered in most government buildings in the capital of Qataber district after seizing it last week and dispelling all employees from other districts. Qataber is witnessing relative calm, as there are no soldiers there and the Yemeni army remains unable to reach the district because all roads are blocked.

Several military units last Friday penetrated into the northern areas of Baqem district and the northern parts of Magz district and took up positions in the southwestern parts. Fierce clashes occurred between both sides that night, but losses weren't reported.

Upon the arrival of these units to the area, Houthi followers blocked all routes between Magz and Baqem, which stretches to the north of Magz district and has lived under siege since these latest clashes erupted January 27.

Sources also mentioned that Yemeni army forces waged a fierce five-hour attack using mortars and tanks on Houthis centered on Gharabah Mountain in Al-Talh's Al-Abqur area northwest of Sa'ada city.

Military sources revealed that military forces from Al-'Amaliqah Brigade arrived in Shadha district last Wednesday under the framework of new reinforcements, including those from other military and security units.

Further, Central Security units were brought from other governorates to participate in the war against Houthis. According to the Yemeni Armed Forces-affiliated 26 September newspaper, amassing such units aims to secure roads and districts from which Houthis were expelled. Thus, the Defense Ministry confessed Al-'Amaliqah Brigade's participation in the war, although it denies such news reported by

Media sources point out that confrontations are ongoing in Dhahian as army forces waged fierce offensives using tanks on some city homes last Saturday. During their attack, soldiers discovered the bodies of children under age 13 in one destroyed home.

The first Sa'ada war erupted June 2004 on Maran Mountain and was led by Hussein Badraddin Al-Houthi prior to his death in September of that same year. The second Sa'ada war broke out in February 2005 in Al-Ruzzamat area and was led by Badraddin Al-Houthi. Those two wars left hundreds killed or injured on both sides.

Moreover, the ongoing Sa'ada war has caused huge military and human losses among both warring sides in a country that's suffering a shortage of economic resources against a rapidly increasing population.

The Yemeni government accuses Houthis of attempting to reinstate Imamate reign, which ended with the eruption of the September 26 Revolution. It also charges them with racism because they claim that such rule should be confined to Hashemites and not other Yemenis.

In related news, media sources also observe that the United Nations has warned the Yemeni government and Houthis about recruiting underage children in the Sa'ada war, as well as using anti-personnel mines. The warning came after recording numerous injuries on both sides resulting from exploding mines.

It remains unknown who is responsible for planting mines causing many injuries among soldiers and Houthis; however, events indicate that the Yemeni army is planting them at some military sites before evacuating in order to trap Houthis. Media reports have mentioned dozens of deaths and handicapping cases among Houthis and army affiliates due to mines.