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AL-MUKALLA: Yemeni army and government-loyal Giant Brigade forces on Sunday took control of parts of Ain district, the last pocket of territory held by Iran-backed Houthis in the southern province of Shabwa, local officials and media said.

The Giants Brigades, backed by warplanes belonging to the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen, forced their way into Ain district after securing neighboring districts of Ouselan and Bayhan, sparking clashes limited with the Houthi militias who fled to their territory in the center of Al-Bayda province.

In the early hours of Sunday, government forces quickly took control of the Al-Saq area in Ain as the Houthis abandoned their positions. Loyalists then engaged in heavy fighting with rebel militias on the outskirts of central Ain district.

On Sunday afternoon, advancing forces tightened their grip on central Ain and surrounding areas and engaged in fighting with a small number of Houthis who refused to surrender.

“They are fighting pockets of Houthis in Ain,” a local official told Arab News by telephone.

If government forces take full control of Ain, Shabwa province will be liberated from the Houthis for the first time since September 2021.

Other Giant Brigades military forces simultaneously moved deeper into Houthi-controlled areas in Al-Bayda under heavy airstrikes from coalition warplanes.

Residents said the retreating Houthis on Sunday blew up a steep road from Shabwa to Al-Bayda in an attempt to slow the advance of forces.

The Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen said on Sunday it had killed more than 290 Houthis in Shabwa in the past 24 hours after targeting their military vehicles and rallying with 39 airstrikes.

The coalition also carried out 15 airstrikes in central Marib province that killed 65 Houthis and destroyed 11 militia vehicles.

For the first time in two years, the Houthis suffered a series of military setbacks. Earlier this month, the Giant’s Brigades – an umbrella term for government-backed forces that previously fought the Houthis in the Red Sea coastal areas – took control of swathes of land in Shabwa province and Al-Bayhan, including key military bases and rebel supply lines. .

Military gains on the battlefields of Shabwa and Al-Bayda helped ease Houthi pressure on loyalists defending the central city of Marib.

Dozens of Houthis and government soldiers, including several leaders, have been killed in the fighting in Shabwa.

The Yemeni government mourned Brig’s death on Sunday. Majidi Al-Radfani, commander of the 3rd Brigade of the Giant’s Brigades, who was killed in fighting in Shabwa.

Al-Radfani was the second high-ranking military officer to die during military operations in Shabwa.

At least two Houthi military leaders have reportedly been killed in fighting or by coalition airstrikes in Shabwa in the past 48 hours.

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