Yemen fighting near capital escalates as UN envoy calls for talks

As the fighting escalates, the United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen is scrambling to get both sides of the five-year war to engage in dialogue once again
Thursday 23/01/2020
UN special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, speaks with media representatives, ahead of a meeting to discuss Yemen issues, in Berlin, January 16. (DPA)
UN special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, speaks with media representatives, ahead of a meeting to discuss Yemen issues, in Berlin, January 16. (DPA)

LONDON - After the brutal missile attack by the Iran-allied Houthi rebels on a government military base that resulted in at least 116 deaths, the Saudi-led coalition fighting in support of the internationally-recognised Yemeni government has intensified its air raids on Yemen's Nahm district, near the rebel-held capital Sanaa, as heavy fighting continues between Yemeni warring factions. 

Quoting a security source, the rebel-run Saba news agency reported that the Saudi-led coalition launched 10 airstrikes on Nahm on 22 January, which targeted different parts of the district.

 Meanwhile, on 21 January, eyewitnesses told the privately-owned Al-Mashhad al-Yemeni news website that "dozens" of Yemeni families were fleeing areas of Nahm due to the fighting.

The previous day, attacks by Yemen's pro-government forces against Houthi positions in Nahm reportedly resulted in the deaths of dozens of rebels.

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

Moreover, the Information Ministry of the internationally-recognised government said a ballistic missile by the Houthis hit the house of lawmaker Mosad Al-Sawadi in Marib on January 22, killing two family members. It said al-Sawadi, his brother and two children were wounded in the attack.

As the fighting escalates, the United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen is scrambling to get both sides of the five-year war to engage in dialogue once again.  

In a briefing to Al-Masdar Online news, UN envoy Martin Griffiths said that he was trying to convince the internationally recognised government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and the Houthi rebels to meet for what he described as “unconditional talks” on a number of pressing issues including the “legitimacy, government and the transitional period."

Griffiths also told the online publication that the missile attack on the government training camp on January 20 by the Houthis that sparked the latest escalation in fighting highlighted the fragility of the situation and the need for a speedy political solution.

The death toll from the attack ranked among the highest from a single rebel assault since the start of the war, sparking widespread condemnation.

(With news agencies)