Houthi attacks threaten peace efforts, says Yemeni vice president

Yemen’s Vice President Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmer warned that escalating missile and drone attacks by the Iran-backed Houthis on areas under government control undermined peace efforts.

At a meeting with the UN’s Special Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, in Riyadh on Thursday, Al-Ahmer said the internationally recognized President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and his government were serious and sincere about reaching a peace agreement that could end the war.

“The continuation of Houthi escalation threatens to torpedo all peace efforts, mainly the Stockholm Agreement,” Al-Ahmer told Griffiths, according to a statement carried on the official Saba news agency.

Houthis have stepped up their missile and drone attacks on residential areas in the central city of Marib, killing and injuring dozens of civilians.

On Wednesday, a ballistic missile fired by Houthis landed at a house in Marib’s Rawdha district, killing and injuring several people from one family.

Al-Ahmer urged the international community to pressure Houthis to stop attacking civilians, reiterating the government’s commitment to a peaceful settlement with Houthis.

The UN envoy said on social media that he discussed the escalation in fighting in Yemen with the vice president, saying that Al-Ahmer backed his efforts to defuse tensions.

Yemen’s government strongly condemned Houthi missile attacks on Marib and other areas, saying the militias were not serious about peace and were acting as pawns for the Iranian regime, stressing that only military operations would bring the Houthis to their knees.

The government fears that Houthi attacks on Marib might force tens of thousands of internally displaced people who have been living in the city since the beginning of the war into fleeing to safer places in the south.

The deadliest Houthi attack on Marib occurred last month when a drone and missile attack killed more than 110 at a military base mosque. Thousands of people have taken refuge in Marib after escaping fighting and shelling in their camps and homes in Marib and Sanaa provinces.

On the battlefields, fighting has raged between government forces and Houthis in Sanaa, Jawf and Marib. Yemen’s army spokesman, Abdu Abdullah Majili, said on Thursday that government troops had engaged in heavy fighting with Houthis in Sanaa’s Nehim, Serwah in Marib, Dhalae, Baydha and Jawf.

Majili told the Ministry of Defense news site that loyalist forces had pushed Houthis from a mountain in Nehim after killing and injuring a number of rebels.

In the northern province of Jawf, army troops repelled attacks by Houthis in Metoun district. Warplanes from the Saudi-led coalition targeted Houthi military gatherings and reinforcements in Jawf and Serwah, Majili said.

The current conflict in Yemen began in late 2014 when Houthis took over Sanaa, forcing Hadi into decamping to Aden where he urged military assistance to blunt the Houthis’ military expansion. The Saudi-led coalition helped Hadi’s forces to push back Houthis and seize control of 80 per cent of the country.

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