Deadly fighting erupts anew as Yemen truce teeters on collapse
MARIB (Yemen) - Clashes between Yemeni loyalist forces and rebels have killed 13 fighters, military sources said Tuesday, after UN-brokered peace talks were delayed with warring parties trading blame for truce violations.
The fighting erupted late Monday in Marib province, east of the rebel-held Yemeni capital Sanaa, despite pledges by all warring parties to commit to a ceasefire that came into effect on April 11.
Five soldiers loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and eight rebels were killed in the clashes which continued intermittently through Tuesday, the pro-government military sources said.
They said the fighting erupted when the Iran-backed Huthi rebels and their allies tried to capture positions held by loyalist troops.
Sporadic fighting was also reported in other areas, including Nahm northeast of Sanaa and in the southwestern province of Taez.
Pro-Hadi chief-of-staff General Mohammed Ali al-Maqdishi accused the rebels of "not respecting" the April 11 ceasefire which he said his forces were committed to.
"The truce is still holding based on orders from our political leadership," said Al-Maqdishi.
The rebels meanwhile accused loyalist forces of launching attacks and dispatching reinforcements to several provinces, in a statement on their sabanews.net website.
They also said warplanes belonging to the Saudi-led coalition, which has intervened militarily in support of loyalists since March last year, flew sorties over several areas of Yemen despite the ceasefire.
On Monday, the Yemeni government and rebels were due to start a new round of peace talks in Kuwait but they were delayed after the insurgents failed to show up over alleged Saudi truce violations.
In a Facebook statement Tuesday, rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam said "we affirm our continued commitment to dialogue... and this is why our demand from the first day was for talks to be held in an atmosphere of calm, peace, and stability."
"But unfortunately, since April 11, the aggression hadn't stopped and the air strikes have continued on several areas," he said.
UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed and government representatives were still in Kuwait on Tuesday, according to officials close to the government delegation.
Previous attempts at peace talks -- including a failed round in January -- have been unable to stop Yemen's conflict, which the United Nations says has killed more than 6,400 people and forced almost 2.8 million from their homes.