120 Slain in Weekend Fighting in Southwest Yemen

Saudi-Backed Forces Claim Enormous Number of Houthis Killed

by Jason Ditz, January 29, 2017

Heavy fighting was again reported between Saudi-backed forces loyal to Yemen’s former president Hadi, and members of the Shi’ite Houthi movement, centering as it has for the past couple of weeks around control of the town of Mokha in the nation’s southwest.

Saudi officials reported a huge death toll over the course of 24 hours of fighting, saying they’d killed at least 95 Shi’ites around the town, and had lost more than 25 of their own troops. They insist that they retain control over the area, though fighting does not appear to be over.

This report is unusual both in that it acknowledges a death toll on their side, generally Saudi reports in Yemen about ground operations only hype the number of Houthis killed, but in that they’d claimed almost a week ago to have taken Mokha entirely, and that the Houthis had largely surrendered and was captured, leaving open the question of where this huge force came from.

While Mokha is a relatively small town, it is strategically valuable because it is near the Bab al-Mandab Strait, and several previous offensives by pro-Saudi forces have been unsuccessful in taking the town, despite them having swept through more or less the rest of the nation’s south.

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