10 soldiers killed in Yemen as fighting with Houthis resumes in Marib
At least 10 pro-Yemen government forces and several Houthi rebels have been killed in renewed fighting in Yemen’s central Marib province, in the latest escalation despite renewed talks about peace efforts.
According to military sources who spoke to AFP, rebel fighters launched an attack on hills above the Harib district in southern Marib, which is controlled by government forces. Thousands of families in the area fled the clashes. Last month, at least four government forces were killed in the same area.
The renewed fighting threatens international efforts to reach a peace deal between the Iran-aligned Houthis and the Saudi-backed government, building on a ceasefire that expired in October last year. The warring sides agreed to a national ceasefire in April, the first in six years. The ceasefire was largely in place, although sporadic clashes were reported in oil-rich Marib. In recent years, the Houthis have been pushing to seize Marib, which is the government’s last stronghold in the north of the country. However, they have encountered a series of obstacles in their offensive, facing resistance from government forces.
Yemeni government forces and Houthi rebels have been locked in a deadly war since the rebels took control of the capital Sanaa in 2014 after ousting Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and his Saudi-based government. The conflict quickly turned into a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which has led an Arab military coalition in support of the internationally recognized government since 2015. The war has killed thousands of people and d ‘left millions on the brink of famine i. what the United Nations describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Meanwhile, efforts to end the war and reach a peace agreement have stalled, despite some progress. On Monday, the UN special envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg announced that the government of Yemen and Houthis agreed to exchange 887 prisoners of war. The agreement came after 10 days of negotiations between the warring sides, overseen by the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross. According to Grundberg, the parties agreed to meet again in May. “From the discussion, I think there is a willingness to go in a positive direction in terms of trying to find a solution to the conflict in Yemen,” he told a press conference in Geneva at the end of the talks.
The announcement follows the Chinese-mediated agreement announced earlier this month between Riyadh and Tehran to restore diplomatic ties. The agreement to end the fighting in Yemen rose, and was warmly welcomed by the United States. “We welcome any efforts to help end the war in Yemen and ease tensions in the Middle East region,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.
Last week, US special envoy to Yemen Tim Lenderking went to Saudi Arabia, as part of Washington’s efforts to build on last year’s UN ceasefire and push for peace in Yemen, according to the State Department. Lenderking’s visit coincided with Grundberg’s trip to Tehran, where he met with Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and other senior Iranian officials.
Despite the renewed international efforts to reach a peace agreement in Yemen, the Houthis continue to control their areas of control with a firm grip and to crush any form of dissent. On Tuesday, a Houthi-run court in Sanaa sentenced four activists to prison terms ranging from six months to three years, for convictions of inciting chaos, disturbing public peace and insulting the Houthis, their lawyer said with The Associated Press.
The court ruling came after four videos were posted online alleging abuse and corruption by the Houthis. Last month, another court controlled by the Houthis upheld a five-year sentence against a Yemeni model and actress arrested in 2021 on charges of violating public morality.