After they pushed the Houthi Movement and its allies from the southern provinces of Aden, Daleh, Lahj and Abyan, pro-Hadi forces took over Shabwa province on Saturday and also made major advances in the city of Taez which has raised hopes that the fall of Sana’a is near.
A military official told AFP news agency that the Houthis were promised a safe passage out of Shabwa if they “withdrew” and “handed over” the province which they did accordingly but the Houthi leader Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi has refuted the claims stating that it was a “tactical withdrawal” due to the factors on the ground.
Salem al-Awlaqi, a political activist in Shabwa said the Houthis “handed over” the province to the Southern Movement, a secessionist group upholding Southern Yemen’s independence but currently fighting alongside pro-Hadi forces.
Some analysts think that the successive territorial gains made by the pro-Hadi forces are mainly due to the Houthi Movement withdrawing its forces from the area to Taez where clashes are intense. Unconfirmed military support such as tanks and personnel carriers from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates could also be contributing immensely to the advances of the pro-Hadi forces as well as the airstrikes from the coalition forces. Military sources stated that some Yemeni soldiers were trained in Saudi Arabia
President Hadi reportedly encouraged those fighting in Taez as he assured the 35th Brigade commander of the area that “support” will soon come for the city to be “liberated” while the government’s Sabanew.net website claimed that the Houthis have already lost several facilities including police and civil defense headquarters.
The fall of Taez, Yemen’s third city and gateway to Sana’a, could make Houthi’s control of Sana’a very fragile.