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Fresh clashes in Yemen claim 55 lives

File photo shows forces loyal to Yemen’s resigned president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi sitting on a heavily armored vehicle during clashes with fighters of ruling Houthi Ansarullah movement in Sana’a governorate. (AFP photo)

Fresh clashes between Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah fighters and militants loyal to resigned president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, have claimed dozens of lives from both sides.

Security and health officials said Sunday that 55 people were killed and 70 more injured in two days of intense fighting in three provinces of Ta’izz, Bayda in the south, and Ma’rib in northern Yemen.

The confrontations between the two sides have been the most intense clashes since Houthis and allies began talks with representatives of Hadi in Kuwait back in April.

The talks were preceded by a ceasefire brokered by the United Nations, but sporadic clashes have continued between the two sides.

Saudi Arabia, which supports Hadi, has also continued its deadly air strikes against the Houthis despite repeated warning by the UN that the campaign could undermine the peace initiative.

UN chief to meet warring sides

UN sources said Sunday that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was to hold a joint meeting with Houthis and Hadi representatives later in the day. The UN chief arrived in Kuwait on Saturday with the aim of pushing forward the talks that have made almost no headway over the past months.

A UN spokesman said Ban will also meet the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber Al-Sabah as well as other senior officials of the Persian Gulf country to seek their mediation between the Yemeni sides.

Yemen’s Houthi fighters sit in the back of heavily armed vehicle during a gathering in the capital Sana’a, on June 20, 2016. ©AFP 

The main bone of contention in the talks is a demand by the Hadi delegation for the Houthis to start disarmament and withdraw from the areas they have captured before any political settlement. Houthis have rejected the call, saying they will only accept any deal on military and security issues after a consensus is reached on the next president and a unity government in Yemen.

Yemen’s former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, an ally of Houthis in the war against Hadi and his Saudi backers, said Saturday that would not recognize Hadi's government. He said in a televised speech that he had presented an initiative to solve Yemen's crisis to both parties to the peace talks taking place in Kuwait.

More than 10,000 people have been killed since the conflict began in Yemen in late 2014. Most of the casualties have been caused by Saudi Arabia’s relentless bombardment of civilians, which started in March 2015. The Saudi air strikes and ground operations in Yemen, which lack any mandate from international organizations, have also displaced millions across the impoverished Arab state. 

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