Middle east

Houthis expand military operations in Yemen in defiance of peace calls – Xinhua

Yemen’s Houthi group Sunday intensified military operations targeting various government-controlled areas of the country, worsening years of conflict, a government official told Xinhua in its English edition.

Houthi Attacks

“The Houthis attacked the government’s Shabwa Defense Forces stationed in a mountainous area that links the Merkhah Al Ulya district to the neighboring al-Bayda province, sparking bloody armed confrontations,” said the local official, who asked not to be named.

“Despite recent international efforts to broker a peace deal, the conflict showed no signs of abating as the Houthis continued to focus their attacks on strategic targets, particularly in the oil-rich Shabwah and Marib governorates over the past 48 hours, Xinhua added.”

Houthi oil ambitions

The continuation of Houthi military operations in these oil-rich provinces confirms their ambition to control Yemen and its resources, the official said.

“After hours of fighting, government forces managed to thwart the Houthi attack on Shabwah, causing death or injury to many on both sides,” the official said.

Large-scale military operation

elsewhere in Yemen; The Houthis have begun preparations for a large-scale military operation against Marib that is of strategic importance because it includes ​gas resources and an oil refinery.

The official said government forces have been fighting hard over the past few hours to hold territory in the Harib district of Marib province, while the Houthi rebels have been pushing hard to hold the area.

“On Saturday, Yemen’s defense minister and other government officials narrowly escaped a Houthi drone attack on their convoy in the southwestern province of Ta’iz.”

Undermining peace efforts

Recent Houthi attacks on government and military-controlled areas have dealt a serious blow to international diplomatic efforts to reduce violence and promote peace in Yemen, jeopardizing the progress made so far.

Xinhua noted that these attacks came at a very critical time, when the two warring parties in Switzerland agreed to exchange hundreds of prisoners of war under the auspices of the United Nations.

The UN-sponsored agreement is seen as an important step towards building trust between the warring Yemeni parties and moving towards further negotiations to achieve a lasting peace agreement.

The Return of Conflict

On Friday, the Yemeni government warned of a possible return to full-scale military conflict in the war-torn Arab country after an escalation in Houthi attacks in Marib.

“Various areas of Yemen have witnessed sporadic armed clashes between local warring factions, following a UN-brokered ceasefire in April that ended in October.”

“Yemen has been locked in a devastating civil war since 2014, with the Houthis fighting against the internationally recognized government and its allies, and a years-long war has pushed the Arab world’s poorest country to the brink of collapse, causing widespread famine and suffering, as well as disrupting the country’s food supply chain, leaving millions of people without adequate nutrition.”

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