At least 44 people have been killed in a new wave of deadly clashes between Iran-backed Houthi rebels and pro-government forces across war-torn Yemen.
Battles broke out on Saturday in Nahm district, east of Sanaa, in which 19 Houthi militants were killed and scores injured, pro-government commander Abdullah al-Shandaqi said in a statement posted on his Facebook page. "Three government forces were killed in the violence," he said.
According to al-Shanqadi, pro-government forces have managed to capture the Mobdia village and Bani Bariq mountains from Houthi rebels during the confrontations. Eleven Houthis and allied forces were also killed on Saturday and 17 others injured in clashes with government forces in the southwestern Taiz province. Six pro-government fighters were also injured in the violence, according to a statement by the pro-government forces. In a related development, four civilians were killed and ten others injured in a Houthi shelling of western Taiz on Saturday. Meanwhile, seven Houthi militants were killed in an attack by government forces on their vehicle in the southern al-Bayda' province.
Hundreds of supporters of Yemen's rebels protested in the capital Sanaa on Saturday against a U.N. peace roadmap aimed at ending a devastating war between the Shiite rebels and pro-government supporters.
The United Nations' special envoy for Yemen discussed a peace plan last week with both sides in the conflict during his second visit to the capital Sana'a in less than a week. The U.N. said in a statement last Friday that Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed arrived in the capital on Thursday and that he will meet with members of the diplomatic corps and others to discuss ways to alleviate the humanitarian suffering and assess the best ways to address the country's economic crisis.
Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized the Yemeni capital Sanaa in September 2014, forcing the internationally recognized government to flee the country. A Saudi-led, U.S.-backed coalition has been conducting an extensive air campaign against the Houthis since March 2015 that has pushed the rebels out of southern Yemen.
The U.N. says the conflict has left more than 19,000 people dead and displaced at least 3 million. Saudi Arabia leads a coalition of Muslim countries, backed by the U.S., the U.K. and France, in the war in neighboring Yemen. The campaign to restore the government ousted by the Iran-allied militia is part of a larger assertive effort to prevent weapons from reaching Shiite Houthi rebels and their allies, who have overrun much of Yemen.
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