Yemeni army, Houthi rebels trade blows east of Sanaa

By Ali Oweida

MAARIB, Yemen (AA) – Fierce clashes erupted on Tuesday between the Yemeni army backed by a Saudi-led military coalition and Houthi rebels in the Nahm directorate east of Sanaa, according to official sources.

The clashes near Sanaa coincide with ongoing fighting between the two sides in Yemen’s western Al-Hudaydah province.

Yemeni government spokesman Saleh al-Qutaibi told Anadolu Agency that the army had already captured several positions east of the capital, including the Madfun and Al-Nahdain heights and parts of the Mount Qarn Wadaa region.

According to al-Qutaibi, “dozens” of Houthi fighters — he did not provide an exact number — have been killed by intense army shelling in the Nahm directorate.

Houthi spokesmen, for their part, have yet to comment on the army’s claims.

For the last two years, the Nahm directorate has seen sporadic clashes between the two sides that have left hundreds dead and injured.

Impoverished Yemen has been wracked by violence since 2014, when Shia Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including capital Sanaa.

The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies — who accuse the Houthis of serving as a proxy force for Shia Iran — launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.

The following year, UN-sponsored peace talks held in Kuwait failed to end the destructive conflict.

The violence has devastated Yemen’s basic infrastructure, including water and sanitation systems, prompting the UN to describe the situation as one of “the worst humanitarian disasters in modern times”.

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