Fierce fight in Yemen for key city of Taiz as Houthi rebels lose ground
Although early reports claimed forces loyal to the Yemen government-in-exile had retaken Taiz, it appears only parts of the city are under their control.
Taiz is the third largest city in Yemen and has been called "the gateway to Sanaa," the capital which is still occupied by the Houthi rebels. An entire 24 hours of fighting has killed at least 81 people, 50 Houthis and 31 loyal to the Saudi-based government-in-exile of President Hadi. The civilian toll in the fighting is unknown. The loyalists are backed by Saudi air strikes. The city has been contested for some time.Recent reports indicate the loyalist forces captured intelligence headquarters in the city and also command a mountaintop nearby that they had captured earlier. However, Houthis and their allies are said to still occupy two military bases in the city. With the advance of the Saudi-supported forces throughout the south following the capture of Aden, the country increasingly looks to be divided between a north held by Houthis and their allies and the south that is held by forces loyal to the Hadi government. Many of the local militia in the south fighting the Houthis belong to the Southern Movement that will demand more autonomy or even independence for the south. In the past the south was a separate state the Republic of South Yemen with unification taking place in May 1990. The Saudi-led coalition has provided forces supporting Hadi modern heavy equipment, including tanks and armoured personnel carriers. Some Yemeni soldiers have been trained in Saudi Arabia.The governor of the recaptured southern port city of Aden said that the city would be declared the capital of Yemen for the next five years. He also said it would be the focus of reconstruction in that period. This declaration has led some analysts to wonder if the Hadi government considers that it may take a half decade to regain control of the northern areas and the capital. The southern movement may attempt to convince the Hadi government that the south should be independent again. When in power, Hadi had been in conflict with the southern movement. The southern movement militia may not have the same agenda as the Hadi government-in-exile.So far the civil war has killed more than 4,300 people, many civilians. It has spread disease and hunger throughout the country creating a humanitarian disaster. Recent bombings have resulted in more civilian casualties.