JEDDAH: At least 10 Yemeni government soldiers were killed on Wednesday in a renewed Houthi militia offensive in the contested central province of Marib.
The new attack shattered a truce that had largely held since last April, and came amid renewed diplomatic efforts to end the eight-year war.
“The Houthis launched an attack on hills overlooking Harib district, south of Marib, and made progress on that front, causing the displacement of dozens of families,” a Yemeni military source said. “At least 10 soldiers were killed, in addition to an unknown number of attackers.”
The fighting comes a month after at least four soldiers were killed in the same district, and dents new optimism after Saudi Arabia and Iran, who back opposing sides in the war, agreed to restore diplomatic ties.
“The Houthis are interested in sending a clear political message that … the Riyadh-Tehran deal does not mean they will just surrender,” said Maged Al-Madhaji, an analyst at the Sanaa Center for Strategic Studies think tank. “The Houthis lean more toward the option of a military confrontation than current negotiations.”
An exchange of hundreds of prisoners was agreed this week and Hans Grundberg, the UN secretary general’s special envoy for Yemen, has said “intense diplomatic efforts” were underway to reach a peace deal.
An open letter on Wednesday from NGOs in Yemen including included Oxfam and Save the Children urgedthe warring sides to reach a truce and move toward an “inclusive Yemeni peace process.”