After nearly a week of U.N.-backed peace negotiations, officials announced that the talks have failed and that only a few results were realized. A cease-fire, which began last week and was set to continue for at least seven days, has failed to hold
Fighting raged Sunday between Yemen's warring factions on the final day of U.N.-backed peace talks that have made no major breakthrough in the face of repeated cease-fire violations.
U.N. special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed was expected to announce a new round of meetings to try to end the conflict, according to a source close to the rebel delegation. A halt to the violence is sorely needed in the Arabian Peninsula's poorest nation, where the U.N. says fighting since March has killed thousands of people and left around 80 percent of the population needing humanitarian aid.
The sides, who have been meeting since Tuesday behind closed doors, agreed Saturday to create "a neutral military committee" to monitor the collapsing cease-fire and another committee to oversee the delivery of humanitarian aid, sources from both sides said. But delegates said substantial progress had proved elusive.
"The negotiations have basically failed," said a source with the delegation representing both the Iran-backed Houthi Shiite rebels and renegade troops still loyal to wealthy ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh. He told AFP that the cease-fire, which was meant to facilitate the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian aid, was "still-born." "We have not achieved any results," agreed a source in President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's government delegation.
The talks have among other things stumbled on the question of prisoners, with the rebels demanding swaps, while the government wants the Houthis to first liberate a number of its captives, including the president's brother, several sources said. The Houthis advanced from their northern strongholds to occupy the capital in September 2014.
Loyalists yesterday attacked rebel positions in the northern Jawf province after seizing the provincial capital two days earlier from the Houthi rebels, pro-government militia sources said. Coalition airstrikes hit a rebel rocket launch pad in Jawf, rebel positions in the north of the western Hodeida province and an army camp in the rebel-held capital Sanaa.
Rebels meanwhile claimed to have caused casualties and equipment damage in a rocket attack on a coalition military base in Marib province east of Sanaa, their sabanews.net website reported. The coalition did not immediately confirm this.
Military sources said that pro-government forces attacked rebel positions in southern Shabwa province, most of which is under loyalist control. They reported casualties as the troops sought to retake the oil-rich Usaylan region from the Houthis.
Saudi Arabia meanwhile said a missile fired from Yemen on Saturday struck the border city of Najran, killing three civilians - a Saudi and two Indian workers. Pro-government forces kept up pressure in Sanaa province's Nihm district this weekend after significant gains in Marib province east of the capital.
Forces loyal to Hadi, and allied tribes in the area, laid siege to Nihm's Fardha military base northeast of the capital.
Despite the proximity, the roughly 40 kilometers separating Nihm from Sanaa is mostly rugged mountainous terrain. A cease-fire that began with the peace talks on Tuesday and was set to continue for at least seven days has failed to hold.
At least 68 people were killed on Thursday near the northern town of Haradh, which loyalists seized the same day, military and tribal sources said.
The U.N. envoy to Yemen was "deeply concerned at the numerous reports of violations of the cessation of hostilities," his office said late Friday. Ould Cheikh Ahmed "urges all parties to respect this agreement and allow unhindered access for the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the most affected districts of Yemen," the statement said. The special envoy has held several sessions with participants during the talks, the statement added. "A coordination and de-escalation committee was created to strengthen adherence to the cessation of hostilities," the statement said.
On March 25, Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies began an extensive military campaign targeting Houthi positions across Yemen when the Houthis advanced from their northern strongholds to occupy the capital Sanaa. Riyadh says its air campaign comes in response to appeals by Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi for military intervention against the Houthis. The Houthis, meanwhile, denounce the offensive as an unwarranted "Saudi-American aggression" on Yemen. Nearly 6,000 people have been killed in the conflict, almost half of them civilians, and more than 27,000 wounded since then, according to UN figures.
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