Taiz is the most populated governorate in Yemen with nearly three million people in an area of around 12,000 sq km, more than the size of Lebanon or Qatar.
The governorate has been the main target of a military campaign by the legitimate army and resistance, backed by the Saudi-dominated Arab coalition, to expel the Iranian-backed Houthis and forces loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The governorate, nearly 250km south of the capital Sanaa, is strategically located between North and South Yemen and overlooks the vital Bab Al Mandeb waterway.
Its capital is Taiz city, which has been besieged by the insurgents for several weeks and has been a target for random shelling from rebel positions in the surrounding mountains.
Military sources say the shelling has eased since the nationalists launched a major offensive to liberate the governorate last month.
But they acknowledge that while the army and resistance fighters have seized many areas in the governorate, their advance remains slow because of the difficult geographical and topographical nature of Taiz and the use of landmines by the rebels.
“The liberation of Taiz is now a matter of time. It is moving slowing but it will be seized by the army and resistance despite the heavy fighting in many areas. “Liberation of Taiz may be easier than the liberation of Sanaa,” a source said.
“Once the rebels are ejected from Taiz, the way to Sanaa will be open and the battle for the liberation of the capital will then begin.
“Sanaa is a stronghold for the insurgents but it is not an incubator for them. Many of its population are against the Houthis and their allies and those who support them are intimidated into doing so. We believe that the battle for Sanaa will be easier.”
More than 1,300 people have been killed and thousands injured in random shelling on civilian areas in Taiz by the rebels over the past few months.
Most of the city’s schools, hospitals and other facilities have also been destroyed while nearly 70 per cent of its people have fled the conflict.
Follow Emirates 24|7 on Google News.