15 killed as fighting intensifies near Yemen’s Sanaa

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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - Fighting between Yemen’s internationally recognised government and Houthi rebels in the rebel-held capital Wednesday left at least 12 fighters dead, including two senior commanders, officials and tribal leaders said.

Shells also hit a residential house killing at least three civilians, they added.

Among the dead in the fighting in Sanaa were a military brigadier and a rebel commander. The clashes wounded dozens of others and forced scores of families to flee, the officials and tribal leaders said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to brief the media. Tribal leaders did so for fear of reprisals.

Fierce clashes erupted late last week in the district of Nehm, some 60 kilometers (37 miles) northeast of the capital Sanaa, after nearly a year of relative calm in the strategic area.

The Saudi-led coalition continued its airstrikes on Houthi targets in that area Wednesday, with the Houthis saying the coalition carried out at least 10 airstrikes.

Another five civilians were wounded when shells hit their home in Nehm, the sources said.

Abdu Abdullah Magli, spokesman for the Yemeni Armed Forces, said the army made major progress on the ground, breaking through Houthi defenses and advancing toward the district of Arhab, north of Sanaa.

The Houthis, however, said they repelled several attacks by government forces and killed dozens of them.
It wasn't possible to independently confirm the claims of either side.

The fighting in Nehm intensified after a Houthi missile attack on a mosque in the central province of Marib killed at least 116 Yemeni government troops over the weekend.

The death toll ranked among the highest from a single rebel assault since the start of the war, sparking widespread condemnation. US and UN officials warned the military escalation could undermine peace efforts.

The Information Ministry of the internationally recognized government said a ballistic missile by the Houthis hit the house of lawmaker Mosad al-Sawadi in Marib on Wednesday killing two family members. It said al-Sawadi, his brother and two children were wounded in the attack.

The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of the capital, Sanaa, by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who control much of the country’s north. A Saudi-led coalition allied with the internationally recognized government has been fighting the Houthis since March 2015.

In the relentless campaign, Saudi-led airstrikes have hit schools, hospitals and wedding parties and killed thousands of Yemeni civilians. The Houthis have used drones and missiles to attack Saudi Arabia.

The war has killed over 100,000 people and created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, leaving millions suffering from food and medical shortages.

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