Houthi leader Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi has ordered the formation of field teams tasked with tracking and capturing militants fleeing battlefields in Yemen, especially those raging in Marib governorate, well-informed sources said.
In Marib, Houthi ranks continued to sustain grave losses, triggering panic among remaining fighters from the Iran-backed group. Armed militants fled fierce clashes in the governorate in droves.
Hundreds of Houthis abandoning their posts in battlegrounds west and north of Marib has created a sharp shortage crisis for coup forces. Combatants bolted from fighting in the Sirwah, Hilan, al-Mukhadrah, al-Kasarah, Reghwan and Mudghal districts.
Some of the deserters secretly returned to their hometowns and villages without notifying Houthi leaders.
Aziz al-Jaradi, a senior Houthi commander who heads the group’s preventative security unit, was tasked with forming specialized teams for chasing down and capturing the deserters and detaining Houthi supervisors who are refusing to join the fight in Marib.
Some Houthi officers have declined to recruit more soldiers for battles in the governorate, leaving the group’s ranks depleted.
Following their leadership’s directives, Houthi intelligence agents tracked down deserters and raided their homes. Initial reports suggest that hundreds were apprehended by the group across seven different Houthi-run governorates.
According to local sources, Houthi agents warned the families of fighters who fled the battleground that they will be treated as traitors and will be subjected to harsh punishment.
Over the weekend, the newly formed tracking teams arrested around 45 escapee fighters in Dhamar governorate, locals told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Racial discrimination and extreme sectarianism were among the prime factors driving recruits to abandon Houthi ranks, locals explained.
Around 190 fighters were arrested in Sanaa and over 69 were detained in Ibb governorate, they affirmed.
Those arrested are being given an ultimatum: either return to fighting on battlefronts or face torture and imprisonment.