UN's Yemen envoy in Sanaa, as rebels killed in fierce clashes

UN's Yemen envoy in Sanaa, as rebels killed in fierce clashes
Fierce clashes and Saudi-led air strikes near Hodeida have killed 32 rebels as the UN envoy for Yemen arrived in Sanaa on a peace mission.
2 min read
16 September, 2018
UN envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths arrives at Sanaa airport [Getty]

Fresh clashes and air strikes around the Yemeni city of Hodeida have killed 32 rebels, hospital and medical sources said on Sunday, as the UN envoy kept up peace efforts in Sanaa.

A radio station tower in the port city was hit by Saudi-led air raids, killing at least four people, Houthi-run al-Masirah television said.

According to medical sources in Hodeida province, which is controlled by the Houthis, at least 32 insurgents have been killed and 14 others wounded in clashes and air strikes since Saturday. 

The Saudi coalition, fighting alongside the Yemeni government, accuses the Iran-aligned Houthis of smuggling arms from Iran through Hodeida and has imposed a partial blockade on the port, which the rebels seized in 2014.

In June, pro-government forces launched a major operation to retake both the city and its port, the entry point of most of the impoverished country's imports and aid.

The troops, backed by coalition air strikes, have retaken a number of towns across Hodeida province but have not yet breached the city.

The coalition in July announced a temporary ceasefire in Hodeida to give a chance to UN-brokered peace talks.

The UN's Yemen envoy, Martin Griffiths, arrived on Sunday in the rebel-held capital Sanaa, without making any statement to the media.

Griffiths is pushing for new peace talks after a failed attempt to bring the two sides together in Geneva earlier this month.

The rebels kept away from the talks, accusing the UN of failing to guarantee the return of their delegation from Switzerland to Sanaa and to secure the evacuation of wounded rebels to Oman.

The Houthis' foreign minister, Hisham Sharaf Abdallah, said his side supported the UN's peace efforts and urged it to pressure the coalition to stop "targeting civilians", the rebel-run news agency Saba reported.

He called for confidence-building measures such as the reopening of Sanaa airport to commercial flights and the payment of civil servants' salaries in all areas of Yemen.

Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in 2015 in the conflict between embattled Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, whose government is recognised by the United Nations, and the Houthis.

Nearly 10,000 people have since been killed and the country now stands on the brink of famine.