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Yemen cities bombarded, as pro-Hadi forces ready for offensive

Taiz has come under heavy attack by Saudi war planes [AFP]

Date of publication: 24 August, 2015

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Rebel held Bab al-Mandeb, the strategically important port town in Yemen is under continued attack as forces loyal to exile president Hadi prepare for a ground offensive in southwest Yemen.

The Saudi-led coalition have bombarded Houthi positions close to the strategically important Red Sea strait, Bab al-Mandeb.

It comes as pro-government forces prepare to launch a ground offensive in the area, to capture territory from a Houthi alliance and elements of the Yemeni army still loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. 

Airstrikes took place in areas under Houthis control around the strategic Red Sea strait, including the port town of Mocha, which is connected by road to Taiz, Yemen's third-largest city.

It has become a new target for forces of the Yemen's self-exiled leader Abd Rabbo Mansour al-Hadi and his government.

Taiz was heavily bombed by the Saudi air force last week and around 65 people, mostly civilians, were killed following air raids on the city on Thursday. It reduced many of the homes to rubble.

A similar tactic of heavy bombardments before ground offensives by pro-government forces have been seen before on areas such as Aden.

Meanwhile, the Saudi military said a high-ranking general was killed along the kingdom's border with Yemen in the kingdom's southern region of Jizan.

Saudi's state news agency carried the statement saying Maj. Gen. Abdulrahman al-Shahrani, commander of the 18th brigade, died Sunday after coming under hostile fire.

He is the highest ranking Saudi officer to die since Saudi Arabia began its air offensive in Yemen in late March.

Several dozen Saudi soldiers have been killed in border attacks since the airstrikes began, mostly by missiles launched by the Houthis and their allies. Two Saudi pilots were killed Friday when their helicopter was shot down in Jizan.

Also Sunday, Yemeni officials said pro-government forces took over the eastern part of the town of Mukayris in Bayda province in an operation supported by airstrikes from the Saudi-led coalition. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren't authorized to brief journalists.

The Houthis and pro-Saleh forces are fighting off an array of forces including southern separatists, local and tribal militias, Islamist militants as well as troops loyal to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

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