Houthis Close In On Another Major Yemeni City

Mar 22, 2015 at 12:34 PM ET

Houthis, a powerful group of Shiite insurgents that is quickly taking over Yemen, is now close to conquering the country’s third largest city, Taiz.

According to images and videos uploaded by locals to social media, the Houthis have already taken over Taiz’s airport and courthouse. Reports from Taiz also claim that the group is already patrolling the city’s outskirts, while convoys of dozens of military vehicles are heading into the city in preparation for a complete takeover.

Thousands of Taiz residents responded by taking to the streets to protest against the growing Houthi presence, even in the face of gunfire. Local eyewitnesses report that at least one person was killed in the protest and 10 injured.

Translation: “Houthi forces arriving at the special forces headquarters in Taiz while the residents are shouting: ‘We prefer death over Houthis'”

In a decade-long insurgency that is quickly becoming a complete national takeover, Houthis wrested control of Yemen’s capital city, Sanaa, in September 2014. This January, the group attacked the city’s presidential palace and other key sites, compelling U.S. ally President Abd Rabbo Masur Hadi to resign. Immediately after, the Houthis dissolved parliament and installed a revolutionary committee to run the government. Some reports suggest the Shiite group may be backed by Iran.

Last week, the deposed president denounced the Houthi coup and appealed to the United Nations for “urgent intervention.” As the Houthis march through Taiz towards Aden, Yemen’s last urban center not yet controlled by Shiite militias, the UN is preparing to host a Security Council meeting on the matter.

Translation: “The Houthi occupation forces fire at the nonviolent protestors in Taiz.”