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Yemen rebels lose key battleground area

SHABWA, YEMEN (AFP) – Yemen’s Huthi rebels were expelled from a key battleground district by United Arab Emirates (UAE)-trained Giants Brigade fighters, the militia said on Tuesday, a day after the insurgents’ latest missile attack on Abu Dhabi.

The Huthis lost Harib district south of Marib, the government’s last northern stronghold which they have been fighting to seize for months.

The Giants Brigade said “hundreds were killed and wounded on both sides” in battles that lasted for more than two weeks and also secured the neighbouring governorate of Shabwa.

There was no immediate comment from the Huthis.

“We thank the Arab coalition for their support for our operations in Shabwa, which were crowned with complete success,” the Giants Brigade said in a statement.

Yemeni pro-government fighters surround ordnances removed from the district of Harib. PHOTO: AP

The clashes are part of a major escalation in the seven-year war after the Huthis, following a series of territorial defeats, launched a deadly drone-and-missile attack on the UAE last week.

The pro-government coalition that includes the UAE hit back with a series of air strikes, one of which killed at least three children and plunged Yemen into a four-day internet outage.

Internet services were restored early on Tuesday, a web monitor and AFP correspondents said.

In rebel-held Saada last Friday, an attack on a prison left at least 70 people dead and wounded more than 100, according to Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

The coalition denied being behind the attack, which the Huthis said had killed 91 people and injured more than 200, as they lined up the bodies covered in white sheets along the ground on Tuesday.

On Monday, the rebels renewed their attack on Abu Dhabi when two ballistic missiles were intercepted over the city, scattering debris.

United States (US) forces based at the capital’s Al-Dhafra air base fired Patriot missiles to help repel the attack, while some of them also scrambled to bunkers, said US officials.

The UAE, which pulled most of its troops out of Yemen in 2019 but maintains support and training for pro-government forces, warned of a “thorough and comprehensive response” to the cross-border attack.

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