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Al Houthi desperation mounts as tribesmen join forces with troops.

Byline: Nasser Arrabyee

Sana'a Al Houthi rebels killed 11-year-old Bashar Ahmad Ali Al Rawdi because his father would not agree to join their ranks against government troops.

The young boy was kidnapped to force his father into allowing his house to be used as a rebel bunker in Al Okab, near the city of Sa'ada, tribal and military sources said on Sunday.

Meanwhile, at least two Al Houthi fugitives were killed and several others wounded or arrested in Sha'ab Al Sama'a, in the Khab area of Al Jawf province, where local tribesmen had blockaded them for two days, sources from the area said.

On the run

Earlier in the week, more than 50 rebels had escaped from Sa'ada to Sha'ab Al Sama'a, northeast of Sa'ada, close to the Saudi province of Najran, where they claimed to have opened a new front against Saudi troops.

The fugitives apparently escaped to an unknown area outside Al Jawf after the tribesmen of Dahm in Al Jawf, with support from government troops, closed in on them killing at least two and arrested about five, said the sources, who are close to the tribesmen.

The tribesmen also seized two cars and weapons and ammunition belonging to rebels, the sources added.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence said in a statement on Sunday that one of the most dangerous leaders of the rebels in Harf Sufyan was killed during a special operation implemented by highly trained special forces focusing solely on the rebel top brass.

The body of Abdullah Tawk was transported to Al Kareb area in Harf Sufyan, the statement said.

The statement said the army intensified the blockade on the rebels from all directions along the three main frontlines, namely, Harf Sufyan, the areas around Sa'ada city, and Al Malahaid u far to the west of Sa'ada near the border with Saudi Arabia.

Observers interpret the rebels' retreat as signs that the war is nearing an end given that groups of rebels have fled to the neighbouring province of Al Jawf.

Many rebels, including some prominent leaders, have also signalled their intention to surrender through tribal chiefs. Several rebel commanders have also been killed during the special forces' operations.

Al Houthi rebels, on their part, said they had killed seven soldiers in suicide attacks in the city of Sa'ada, which is heavily surrounded by government troops.

Rebel claim

In a statement sent through e-mail on Sunday, the rebels said they are determined to regain control of the city of Sa'ada "very soon".

The rebels also threatened to open new fronts to fight Saudi forces. Sha'ab Al Sama'a in the Khab area of Al Jawf was one of the areas where the rebels had tried to engage Saudi forces, but without much success.

The rebels, who face an increasingly stiff blockade by the Saudi army in the west and the Yemeni army in the east and south of Sa'ada, have, meanwhile, intensified their bombardment of houses of citizens whom they accuse of cooperating with the army.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Dec 8, 2009
Words:516
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