By Murad al-Arifi
SANAA (AA) – The Yemeni forces commanded by the nephew of Yemen’s late leader Ali Abdullah Saleh and backed by the UAE carried out its first military operation against the Yemeni Houthi militia in western Taiz province on Thursday.
The forces, named National Resistance, are commanded by Tariq Saleh and does not recognize the legitimacy of the current Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
A military source from the National Resistance, who requested anonymity, told Anadolu Agency the forces advanced to the Mowazzie Directorate in western Taiz province and fought the first battle against the Houtis.
The source pointed out that the military operation began at early hours of Thursday with the support of Apache helicopters, belonging to the UAE.
The source did not give further details about the nature of the clashes between the two sides.
Meanwhile, the UAE official news agency WAM reported: “The Yemeni National Resistance Forces, led by Staff Brigadier-General Tarek Mohamed Abdullah Saleh, today [Thursday] launched a large-scale military operation on Yemen's Red Sea Coast in the direction of Mocha and Al Barah Area […] to liberate new areas from the grip of the Iran-backed Houthi militias.”
For its part, the pro-Yemeni government Abu al-Abbas Brigades announced in a statement that it has taken control of a number of sites and villages in the Al Kadha area, which is located in western Taiz on the Red Sea Coast of Yemen.
The statement read that a number of Houthi elements have been killed and wounded during clashes with them, without specifying the numbers.
– Former president's assassination
In December, local media claimed that Tariq had been killed — alongside his uncle, the former president — by Houthi militiamen south of capital Sanaa.
Ali Abdullah Saleh, who served as Yemen’s president from 1990 to 2012, had earlier been considered an ally of the Houthis but had appeared to have had a falling out with the group shortly before the latter kills him in December.
The UAE is a leading member of a Saudi-led military coalition cobbled together in 2015 to fight the Houthis, who had overrun much of Yemen — including capital Sanaa — one year earlier.
Yemen has been racked by violence since 2014, when Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including capital Sanaa.
The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its allies — who accuse the Houthis of serving as an Iranian proxy force — launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.
The following year, UN-sponsored peace talks held in Kuwait failed to produce any tangible breakthroughs.
The ongoing violence has devastated basic services, including water and sanitation systems, prompting the UN to describe the situation in Yemen as one of “the world’s worst humanitarian disasters in modern times”.