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Iranian Ambassador to Yemen, Hassan Irlu has recently left the Yemeni capital of Sanaa for Iran. According to Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, the reason for his departure was need of urgent medical care in Tehran due to coronavirus complications. Some media did not lose their chance to speculate that the real reason behind the Irlu’s departure was the emergence of serious differences between Iran and Ansar Allah. No matter what the real reason, the Houthis (as Ansar Allah are known) appear not to be suffering any disagreement with their main supporter and continue their advance on the Yemeni frontlines.
Most recently, in a two-days operation, Houthi forces succeeded to liberate the heights of Habash and Qasha’an in the north of al-Jawf province . On December 18, Saudi-led fighters withdrew from the al-Yatmah area on the Hazm-Boqa’ road. In order to assure their positions in a newly-captured region, the Houthis followed their usual practice of making an agreement with the elders of a local opposition tribe.
The peace agreement with the Yatmah tribes was reached on the next day, on December 19. In order to prevent their members from cooperation with the Saudi-led coalition, the Houthis assured that the control over the area will be handed over to the elders and that the tribal fighters will get the weapons left by the enemy forces so that they could assure their own security.
The recent Houthi gains are of a strategic importance. Since 2020, the al-Yatmah area has been a center for preparing new attacks against the group’s fighters. This is also an important step for the Houthis towards the capturing of the Saudi positions in the al-Jawf desert, where the al-Kanais military camp is located.
Meanwhile, clashes continue along the northern axis of al-Jawf province, while Ansar Allah is stabilizing the progress in this area. The fightings have intensified there since December 4, and during this period, the Saudi coalition warplanes have bombed the districts of Khab and al-Shaaf and Hazm more then 30 times.
Another hot spot in Yemen is the south of Marib, where the Houthis have continued their attacks simultaneously with the al-Yatmah area. However, any significant success is yet to be made.
The last Houthi advance in the region was announced on December 8, when they took control over the most parts of the al-Balaq al-Sharqi mountain. The Saudi-led coalition is still trying to retake these positions. In order to achieve this goal, the Saudi warplanes, combat and reconnaissance drones, as well as artillery are constantly pounding Houthi forces. But to no avail.
In their turn, in recent days, the Houthis have deployed military helicopters over the area, targeting positions of the Saudi-led forces in the south of the city of Marib. At least three successive air support operations have been claimed so far.
Fierce air battles are not only unfolding over Yemeni territory.
On December 19, Ansar Allah Drone Units targeted positions of the Saudi coalition in Khamis Mushait and Abha with three suicide drones. The King Khalid Airbase and Abha Airport were likely hit by the Houthi Qasef 2K drones.
The Saudis did not take long to respond. On December 20, the Royal Saudi Air Force attacked the airport of Sanaa which is under Houthi control. The facility is used by the Houthis to deploy Kamikaze UAVs and SAMs.