40 dead amidst clashes in Yemen’s central province

Saudi-led coalition air strikes against Iranian-backed Houthi militias in Baida province claim lives of at least 40 people in less than 48 hours

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A man runs for shelter during a Saudi-led air strike in Yemen's Red Sea port city of Houdieda August 23, 2015.

At least 40 people reportedly killed amidst clashes between the Iranian-backed Houthi militias and armed Yemeni fighters loyal to President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi backed by Saudi-led coalition air strikes that lasted for more than 24 hours in an attempt to push the insurgency out of Yemen's central Baida province, military sources told AFP on Tuesday.

The clashes and air strikes took place in Mukayris, a town seen as a gateway to southern provinces recently recaptured by pro-government forces, which left 19 Houthi militants, 15 loyalists and six civilians dead, the sources reported.

Saudi-led coalition air strikes against the Houthi positions in Baida continued on Tuesday as the fighting intensified, the sources added.

Baida is home to mostly Sunni tribes who have been battling the Houthi militias since their advancement from their northern stronghold late last year.

Mukayris is located on the border between Baida and the southern province of Abyan, which Saudi-backed loyalists to President Hadi have recaptured along with Aden, Lahj, Daleh, Shabwa since mid-July.

Other clashes were still taking place on Tuesday and Saudi-led coalition raids struck the Houthi militias in the vast oil-rich of Marib province, in the east, witnesses stated.

On Monday, a local official said that up to 53 Houthi militants were killed in coalition air strikes in Marib, but no independent confirmation of the report was released.

The most recent clashes had been focused primarily in provinces surrounding Sanaa, including the third largest city, Taez - after the capital Sanaa and the southern port of Aden - which is seen as the key province to controlling the capital.

President Hadi’s government fled to Riyadh in March this year as Houthi forces seized the capital in September, 2014.

A coalition of Arab states allied with Hadi government has been bombarding the Houthi insurgency since late March, also running training programmes and dropped weapons for Yemeni fighters loyal to Hadi.

Houthi militants are allied with militants loyal to deposed president Ali Abbdullah Saleh and are backed by Iran with military equipment, including weapons, according to many of the Gulf countries, a claim Tehran rejects.

About 2,800 Yemeni troops backed by the Arab coalition arrived in Yemeni territory earlier last week.

The deployment was composed of Saudi special-operation forces, intelligence and logistics personnel including units from the United Arab Emirates, according to reports.

War-torn Yemen is in dire need for humanitarian help due to shortages of food, medicine and fuel, since last March.

The United Nations has declared the situation in Yemen to be a level-three humanitarian emergency, the highest on its scale, after about 80 percent of the country’s population fell into dire need of humanitarian aid.

Twenty million people in the country are in need of aid, 13 million are facing food shortages and 9.4 million are having difficulties accessing drinking water.



TRTWorld and agencies