Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has dismissed an army general following a series of military setbacks in Nehim district, near Houthi-held Sanaa.
The official Saba News agency reported on Monday that Hadi had appointed Maj. Gen. Ahmad Hassan Jebran as the commander of the 7th Military Region, replacing Maj. Gen. Mohsen Al-Khubi.
Al-Khubi has been commanding government forces in Nehim and neighboring battlefields since August 2018. The Nehim battlefield has endured a military stalemate as government forces could not make major gains.
The dismissal comes amid reports that the Iranian-backed Houthis have seized control of Fardhat Nehim military base, a large swathe of the mountainous district and a strategic road that links Marib city with the northern province of Jawf.
The rebels expanded in Nehim following heavy clashes with government forces, backed by air support from Saudi-led coalition warplanes.
Last week, Yemen’s minister of defense said that army troops carried out a “tactical retreat” in Nehim to allow forces to regroup before pushing back into the battlefield. Fighting in Nehim escalated on Jan. 19, a day after a Houthi missile and drone attack killed more than 110 soldiers and civilians at a military base mosque in the city of Marib.
The attack prompted senior government officials to threaten to pull out of the Stockholm Agreement, which largely ended hostilities in the western province of Hodeida. Dozens of Houthis and loyalist forces, including commanders, have been killed since the Marib attack.
Saba reported on Monday that Hadi telephoned the minister of defense and the governors of Marib, Jawf and Sana’a, hailing “victories” on the battlefields and ordering his forces to escalate military activities until they purged the Houthis from areas under their control.
Fighting also continued in Abyan’s Lawder district when the Houthis attacked government forces.
Similar clashes were also reported in Jawf, Marib’s Serwah and Taiz. UN envoy to Yemen urges recommitment to Stockholm Agreement
The UN envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, has urged the Houthis and the internationally recognized government to adhere to the Stockholm Agreement and to stop hostilities on the battlefields as the Yemeni government reiterated threats to pull out of the deal.
“The parties in Yemen must de-escalate violence and renew their commitment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict. The Yemeni people deserve better than a life of perpetual war,” he said on Tuesday, urging both sides to commit to keeping Hodeida safe and releasing detainees.
“More than a year ago in Stockholm, the parties promised the Yemeni people to keep Hodeida safe, to use port revenues to pay salaries and to return detainees to their loved ones. They must fulfill these promises and build a conducive environment for the peace process,” he added.
Yemeni government officials argue that the Houthis exploited a cessation of fighting in Hodeida to strengthen their forces in Nehim and Taiz.