04:55 GMT +323 November 2019
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    French-built lighthouse on the Hanish Islands

    Arab Coalition Takes Control Over Hanish Islands in the Red Sea

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    The Saudi-led Arab Coalition has announced that it has taken control over the Hanish Islands in the Red Sea from Houthi militia, according to the Emirates news agency WAM.

    The coalition said its forces had "cleansed Great Hanish", an island in the archipelago, which is situated near the Red Sea's main shipping lanes.

    The area had been subjected to weeks of heavy shelling by Arab forces before they were seized, according to Reuters.

    The islands, part of Al Hudaydah Governorate, have strategic importance in the Red Sea, and are situated near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait.

    In September 2014, the area was captured by Houthi militia fighters from forces loyal to the ousted Yemeni President, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

    The islands were apparently used for storing weapons and smuggling them into Hodeida, Yemen's main Red Sea port.

    The archipelago was the subject of a territorial dispute between Yemen and Eritrea, which seized the islands in the 1990s and held them until a London-based international arbitration court granted Yemen sovereignty in 1998.

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    Tags:
    Middle East, control, Houthi militants, Eritrea, Yemen, Hanish Islands, Red Sea, Africa
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