Yemen clashes kill 18 fighters in fresh flare-up: Military officials

AFP , Thursday 6 Jun 2024

At least 18 combatants have been killed in battles between Yemeni government forces and Iran-backed Houthi rebels in the country's southwest, two military officials told AFP on Thursday.

Lahij province - Yemen
File photo: An ambulance transports casualties of strikes on Al-Anad air base to the Ibn Khaldun hospital in the government-held southern province of Lahij. AFP

 

The clashes on Wednesday were triggered by a Houthi attack on a frontline area between government-controlled parts of Lahij governorate and Houthi-run parts of Taez province, said Mohammed al-Naqib, a spokesperson for the Southern Transitional Council, a separatist group allied with the government.

The attack came despite a lull in fighting that has largely held since the expiry of a six-month truce brokered by the United Nations in April 2022.

Yemeni government "forces succeeded in repelling the attack, but five soldiers were martyred and others wounded", Naqib told AFP.

A Houthi military official in Taez told AFP that 13 rebels, including a senior commander, were also killed in the fighting.

Yemen's internationally-recognised government condemned the Houthi offensive as a "treacherous attack".

In a statement on social media platform X on Wednesday, Information Minister Moammar al-Eryani said the counterattack by Yemeni government forces "inflicted heavy losses on (Houthi) militia members", without specifying a toll.

While hostilities have remained low, sporadic fighting has occasionally flared in parts of the country.

In April, a surprise Houthi attack killed 11 fighters loyal to the Yemeni government in Lahij province.

The Houthis seized control of Yemen's capital Sanaa in 2014, prompting a Saudi-led military intervention the following year.

Nine years of war have left hundreds of thousands dead through direct and indirect causes, and triggered one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

In December, the UN envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg said warring parties had committed to a new ceasefire and agreed to engage in a UN-led peace process to end the conflict.

But the peace process has stalled since November due to Houthi attacks on Israel-linked Red Sea shipping, which the rebels say aim to pressure Israel to end its war on Gaza.

Eryani accused the Houthis of exploiting the Gaza war to amass fighters, weapons and resources to boost their capabilities on the home front.

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