Today, the Houthis and Yemeni Army’s 48th Brigade of the Republican Guard (green on the map) captured the Ta’izz Prison after a prolonged battle with various fighters and soldiers loyal to the Aden-based former President, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi (red on the map).
Less than a year ago, some 1200 criminals, many of whom were linked to Ansar al-Shariah (Al-Qaeda in Yemen), fled this very same prison as security guards ran off due to firefights on the perimeter of the prison.
In other news, Houthi forces shelled pro-Hadi troops with heavy artillery in the southwestern countryside of Ta’izz throughout the day as they seem to be lining up for an offensive in this area. Not long ago, the Republican Guard seized the harbor-town of Dhubab and secured the road which runs from this city onto Ta’izz.
For months, troops on both sides have attempted to capture Ta’izz city which is the second largest in all of Yemen. However, neither faction has been able to deal the final blow and capture Ta’izz entirely as the Saudi Airforce continues to carry out daily airstrikes on the city in support of the fragile Hadi-supply line that runs to Aden.
Meanwhile, heavy clashes are also taking place in the far east of the aforementioned areas. Inside the contested Shabwah governorate in the center of Yemen, a huge battle is currently underway at Bayhan al-Qisab. According to an Al-Masdar source, some 17 tanks, Hummers, BMB’s, and pick-up tricks were destroyed at this town as Houthis and Republican Guard have gone on the counter-offensive. In total, more than 50 casualties were reported here due to today’s battle while skirmishes are also taking place at the village of Assaylan.
Last year, Houthis were at the gates of Aden city and threatened the very existence of the Aden-based Hadi-lead government; in fact the aforementioned ex-president of Yemen was forced into exile due to this offensive.
However, as the hardline Sunni-religious country of Saudi Arabia felt threatened by the Houthis – which is made up mostly by Shiite tribesmen – the Saudi Airforce was quick to aid of Hadi’s government and temporarily repelled the Houthi invasion on Aden city with countless air raids.
Current events at Ta’izz city hold huge strategical importance; if soldiers on either side capture the city, they will be able to push towards the opponent’s heartland and eventually, capital. Arguably, which ever side is able to win the battle of Tai’zz once and for all – this faction will have the upper hand in the civil war of Yemen itself.
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