By Zakaria al-Kamali, Ali Owaida and Murad al-Arifi
SANAA/MAARIB/TAIZ, Yemen (AA) – Violence has continued to rage in Yemen following the suspension last week of Kuwait-hosted peace talks between Yemen’s Saudi Arabia-backed government and the Houthi militia, which critics accuse of serving as a proxy for Shia Iran.
Twenty-two Houthi militants were killed in clashes that erupted late Wednesday between pro-government forces on one hand and the Houthis and their allies on the other in Sanaa’s Nahm district, according to Abdullah al-Shandaqi, a spokesman for “popular resistance” forces loyal to Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.
Three pro-Hadi fighters were also killed in the fighting, al-Shandaqi said.
The spokesman went on to say that pro-government troops and “popular resistance” forces — backed by warplanes deployed by a Saudi-led coalition — were advancing on Sanaa, which was overrun by the Houthis in late 2014.
Another pro-government source, who spoke anonymously due to restrictions on talking to media, said eight Houthi fighters had been killed late Wednesday in fierce clashes with pro-Hadi forces in Yemen’s southwestern Taiz province.
According to a separate statement issued by the Yemeni army, Saudi-led coalition warplanes on Wednesday evening struck a facility used by the Houthis and their allies in the northwestern Haja province, killing 12 militants.
The assertions made by pro-government sources, however, could not be independently verified by impartial observers or Houthi spokesmen.
Yemen has been racked by chaos since 2014, when the Houthis and allied forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh overran capital Sanaa and other parts of the country, forcing President Hadi and his Saudi-backed government to temporarily flee to Riyadh.
In March of last year, Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies launched an ambitious air campaign aimed at reversing Houthi military gains in Yemen and restoring Hadi’s embattled government.
In April of this year, the Yemeni government and the Houthis entered into UN-sponsored peace talks in Kuwait aimed at resolving the conflict, in which more than 6,400 people have been killed and another 2.5 million forced to flee their homes.
The on-again, off-again talks were suspended last week, however, due to repeated violations of a fragile cease-fire, especially in and around Taiz province.