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The battle in Yemen has almost entirely shifted to Ansar Allah’s favor, after several weeks and months of successful military operations.
Marib, the Saudi-led coalition’s last bastion in northern Yemen, is an “impenetrable wall,” said Yemen’s puppet government’s foreign minister.
The Houthis (Ansar Allah), who seized the capital Sanaa in 2014, have intensified their fight for Marib this year, but have come under heavy bombardment from the Saudi-led military coalition, and still their offensive continues.
Meanwhile, on November 20th the Iran-aligned Houthi movement said it had fired 14 drones at several Saudi Arabian cities, including at Saudi Aramco facilities.
The Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said that the group had attacked Aramco’s refineries in Jeddah as well as military targets in Riyadh, Jeddah, Abha, Jizan and Najran.
Curiously, the Ansar Allah statement mentioned the wrong name for the international airport in Jeddah and the wrong location for the King Khalid base, saying it was in Riyadh when it is actually in the southern part of the kingdom.
The Saudi-led coalition said that it had destroyed three drones launched towards southern Saudi Arabia and a fourth over Yemen. It said the group “failed to launch two ballistic missiles” and that they fell inside Yemen.
Riyadh’s forces also responded, by attacking 13 targets in Yemen. The operation hit weapons depots, air defense systems and drones’ communication systems in Sanaa, Saada, and Marib provinces, the coalition said.
In addition to Marib, al-Hudaydah and Taiz are becoming increasingly volatile points.
Earlier, the Saudi-led coalition partially withdrew from the port city to redeploy forces and likely to support the fight for the central city of Marib. It is quite possible that this is part of a larger plan to attempt and stretch Houthi forces and resources in defending and attacking several locations.
On November 21, Saudi-backed forces managed to expel the Houthis from the district of Hays, some 100 km to the south of the al-Hudaydah provincial center.
Saudi-backed forces also advanced in the districts of al-Jarrahi and Jabal Ra’s. At the same time they managed to secure some positions in the district of Maqbanah in the nearby province of Taiz.
The coalition claims that the decision to withdraw from al-Hudaydah was the result of the Houthis’ repeated violations of the UN-brokered ceasefire and the group’s control over several Red Sea ports, including that of al-Hudaydah, but it is obvious that supporting Marib was the main reason.
Saudi-backed forces kicked off a military operation in the central province of Shabwah on November 20, just to pressure the Houthis.
Clashes around Marib and other locations throughout Yemen are likely to intensify before the end of the year, as the increased activity on both sides is more than evident. The Houthis appear to have the upper hand, but no crushing blow of any sort has been dealt to the Saudi-led coalition.