Moroccan Soldiers to Participate in Ground Offensive in Yemen

Moroccan Soldiers to Participate in Ground Offensive in Yemen

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Morocco’s Royal Armed Forces will participate in ground operations in Yemen as the Saudi-led military campaign enters its six month since the Gulf nation launched Operation Decisive Storm against Yemen’s Houthi rebels last March.

Morocco is set to join a coalition of soldiers from Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, and Sudan in Yemen’s central Marib province, 90 kilometers from Sana’a, and fight alongside the pro-government forces of Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

The announcement first appeared in Yemen’s Al Akhbar this past Monday, and was confirmed yesterday by several Moroccan media sources. The news comes within days following the death of 60 soldiers from a Saudi-led operation, including 45 Emiratis, after an ammunition depot outside of Marib was struck by a Houthi missile. The attack resulted in the UAE’s worst military loss in history since becoming a nation in 1971.

Qatar also announced that it would increase its military contribution on the ground in Yemen by sending an additional 1,000 soldiers with helicopter and armored vehicle support. They will also head toward the province of Marib, reported Al Jazeera.

The ground offensive on Marib may indicate that coalition forces are preparing to advance onward to the capital of Sana’a, a move that could allow for the exiled Hadi and his government to return to the city if captured successfully.

The capital is still largely in control of the hands of the Houthis and forces loyal to former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Salah.

Morocco first contributed to the Saudi-led campaign by providing aerial support to Saudi air strikes against Houthi positions throughout Yemen.

This past May, a Moroccan F-16 belonging to the Royal Armed Forces crashed in the northern Yemeni province of Saada near the Saudi border, resulting in the death of its pilot Yassine Bahti. Houthi rebels claimed the aircraft was shot down, however coalition officials dispute this claim and insist that a technical error or human misjudgment was at fault.

Matthew Greene for The Moroccan Times.