BFF-49 Yemen’s Huthi rebels seize key route in deadly clashes

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YEMEN-CONFLICT

Yemen’s Huthi rebels seize key route in deadly clashes

DUBAI, Jan 27, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Yemen’s Huthi rebels made gains against
government troops north and east of Sanaa on Monday, seizing a strategic road
in deadly fighting, loyalist military officials told AFP.

The pro-government sources said the rebels had captured the route that
connects Sanaa to the provinces of Marib, to the east, and Jawf to the north.

Dozens have been killed or wounded in the fighting around Sanaa in the
past 48 hours, according to these military sources, but they were not able to
give precise figures.

“The Huthis are now seeking to take Hazm, the capital of Jawf province,”
one official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The rebels were now just five kilometres (three miles) from the city, this
source added.

Before the latest upsurge in fighting, Jawf province had been mostly
controlled by the Huthis, with its capital still in the hands of the
government.

Marib province is partly under Huthi control, with its capital also held
by the government.

The renewed fighting, which erupted nearly two weeks ago, included a
January 18 missile strike on a loyalist military camp that killed 116 people.

The clashes have shattered a period of relative calm in a country
devastated by five years of war.

On Monday a missile struck a popular market west of the city of Taiz in
southwestern Yemen, killing three civilians and wounding seven others,
according to the Saba news agency, which blamed the Huthis for the attack.

The war in Yemen pits the Iran-backed Huthis against the internationally
recognised government which since 2015 has been reinforced by a military
coalition led by Saudi Arabia and its allies, including the United Arab
Emirates.

On Friday, the government acknowledged the Huthis’ progress, saying it had
carried out a “tactical withdrawal” of its own troops from certain positions
east of Sanaa, some of which it had held for three years.

In a report published on Friday, the International Crisis Group said the
Huthis “appeared to be making the biggest gains on the battlefield”.

The think-tank warned that if the renewed fighting spread, it would
represent “a devastating blow to current efforts to end the war”.

The conflict has left tens of thousands of people dead, mainly civilians,
and triggered what the United Nations has said is the world’s worst
humanitarian crisis.

BSS/AFP/FI/ 2222 hrs