ADEN // Houthi rebels and their allies fled their positions in Sanaa yesterday in fear of an imminent coalition assault.
Forces from the Saudi Arabia-led coalition are preparing for a large-scale ground attack to liberate Yemen’s capital, military sources told the Yemen Times website.
Columns of Houthis and forces loyal to the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh deserted their positions in Sanaa and handed them over to internal security to avoid the air strikes that are expected to precede the coalition assault.
Military and political observers expect fighting to escalate before possible UN-sponsored talks between the Houthis and representatives of the legitimate government led by president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi.
In Aden yesterday about 500 Sudanese soldiers landed in the port to join 300 of their comrades in the coalition.
The new force, which disembarked at Aden’s refinery terminal, will play a role in securing Aden and in the advance on the central city of Taez, a Yemeni military official said.
In Riyadh, Yemen’s vice president and prime minister Khaled Bahah met the UAE Ambassador to Yemen, Salem Al Ghafli.
They discussed developments in Yemen’s security, humanitarian aid and rebuilding infrastructure that had been damaged by the Houthis and their allies. Mr Bahah commended the positive role played by the coalition states, notably the UAE and Saudi Arabia, to support the people of Yemen.
Mr Al Ghafli conveyed the regards of the UAE leadership to Mr Bahah and members of the Yemeni cabinet, reiterating the UAE’s continuous support to the people of Yemen in overcoming their strife.
He said the UAE’s support would continue until peace and stability were restored.
Officials in Yemen also thanked the UAE for its latest shipment of aid.
A UAE aircraft carrying 75 tonnes of food and medical supplies landed on Socotra island on Sunday.
The plane was the 14th relief flight to Yemen from the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation.
Officials including the governor of Socotra, Saeed Bahgaibah, thanked the UAE leadership for the aid, and for their efforts in returning security and stability to the country.
The UAE has played a leading military role against Houthi rebels and their allies, who have fought to remove the government of the internationally recognised president, Mr Hadi.
It has also assumed the responsibility of providing humanitarian relief to the Yemeni people, and for rebuilding and returning services to areas it has helped to liberate from the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
Fifteen tonnes of medical supplies in the shipment will be distributed through the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Hospital in Socotra, said its director general, Dr Ali Mukhaini.