Government loyalists battle Houthi rebels across Yemen

Government loyalists battle Houthi rebels across Yemen
Yemeni pro-government forces have been engaged in battles with Houthi fighters across the country, as the two-year anniversary of the rebels' uprising approaches.
2 min read
18 September, 2016
Government forces have been fighting Houthi rebels since September 2014 [AFP]

Yemen's pro-government fighters took part in several battles against Houthi rebels on Saturday, with clashes reported in the besieged Taiz region along with other parts of the war-torn nation.

Loyalist fighters killed at least five rebels in clashes around Taiz, where attempts have been made to break a siege imposed by Houthis for more than year.

"Five rebels and one of our soldiers were killed in the fighting" near Taiz, a local pro-government commander, Fadl Hassan, told AFP.

Rebels and allies were forced out from five hills in the Sharija region, along the borders of the Taiz and Lahj provinces, he said, noting the government forces are "trying to break the siege".

The operation to free Taiz was launched from the eastern side of the city in late August, more than year after it had been overran by the Houthis, however, little progress has been made.

Meanwhile. loyalist forces also clashed with rebels east of the Yemeni capital, with fighting concentrated in the strategic Sarwah region leading to Sanaa, military sources said.

Saudi-led coalition airstrikes also targeted rebel positions in Nihm northeast of Sanaa, and in the coastal city of Hodedia to the west of the country.

Despite this, the Houthis, who seized Sanaa in September 2014,  were putting up fierce resistance two years into the conflict.

More than 10,000 people have been killed since the Saudi-led coalition formed and launched its military campaign in Yemen in March 2015.

At least three million have also been forced into displacement, the United Nations suggested.

Five rebels and one of our soldiers were killed in the fighting.
- Fadl Hassan, pro-government commander

UN-sponsored peace talks - which were anticipated to resolve the deadly conflict - failed in early August, causing violence to flare after a period of relative calm.

Earlier this week, Reuters reported that a US official presented a proposal for a comprehensive Yemeni ceasefire to a Houthi delegation at a meeting in Oman.

The plan, reportedly proposed by US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon, will be taken back to Sanaa for deliberation, a member of the Houthi delegation told Reuters.

Shannon was this week in the Omani capital Muscat holding talks with a delegation of Houthis and their allies from the General People's Congress (GPC), the party of deposed president Ali Abdullah Saleh, to discuss how to end the war.