Four soldiers killed in Yemen clashes as Taiz siege lingers on despite truce
Clashes with Houthi rebel forces have been ongoing sporadically despite the humanitarian truce between the two parties, which was renewed earlier this month.
“The Iran-supported Houthi rebels have broken the terms of the truce no less than 288 times over the last three days alone, across all the current theatres of war,” said a statement by the army.
“The transgressions range from firing heavy artillery and exploding drones on army positions throughout the country” alleged the army, noting that “these attacks resulted in the death of 4 brave soldiers and the injury of 17 others”.
In response, the Houthi-controlled Saba news agency released a report aying “our enemies and their mercenary allies [the Saudi-led coalition] have themselves broken the humanitarian truce 103 times in the last 24 hours.”
It accused Yemeni government forces of "using armed reconnaissance aircraft, engaging in heavy shelling of our positions and starting shootouts in several governorates”, the statement continued.
In a related development, residents of the Houthi-besieged city of Taiz took to the streets on Friday and called for Houthi forces to ease access to the city.
Large groups gathered in Freedom Square in the centre of the city, responding to calls by activists on social media to escalate calls for Houthis to open major routes into the city.
Protesters chanted anti-Houthi slogans and called on the international community to uphold the truce.
Placards bore slogans demanding that warring parties “break the siege of Taiz” and warned that “attempts to open smaller roads but keep the siege” would be a crime under international law.
The city has been surrounded by the Houthis for over seven years.
مظاهرات في مدينة تعز تطالب بفتح المعابر وكسر الحصار المفروض على المدينة منذو 7 سنوات pic.twitter.com/mtZPHnRmbp— عبدالباسط الشميري (@abdlbastalshm) June 17, 2022
Houthis stand accused
“The Houthis are reneging on their responsibilities under the truce - which specifically required the siege on Taiz to be lifted,” said Zakaria al-Shorabi, one of the protest’s organisers to Turkish news agency Anadolu.
Al-Shorabi demanded that “the United Nations, through envoy Hans Grundberg, apply real and lasting pressure on the Houthis to break the siege before the truce concludes”.
At the beginning of June, both the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels agreed to extend the humanitarian truce for a further two months, after the initial period elapsed.
The truce has already succeeded in resuming commercial flights from Sanaa airport to Amman and Cairo, and eased oil and other goods entering Yemen from the port of Hodeidah.
The country has been gripped by conflict since the Iran-backed Houthi rebels took control of the capital Sanaa in 2014, triggering a Saudi-led military intervention in support of the internationally-recognised government the following year.