More than 80 Yemeni soldiers have been killed and scores injured in a missile and drone attack blamed on Houthi rebels in central Yemen, medical and military sources said Sunday.
Saturday's strike follows months of relative calm in the war between the Iran-backed Houthis and Yemen's internationally recognized government, which is backed by a Saudi-led military coalition. The Houthis attacked a mosque in a military camp in the central province of Marib, about 170 kilometers (105 miles) east of the capital Sanaa, during evening prayers, military sources told AFP. A medical source at a Marib city hospital, where the casualties were transported, said that 83 soldiers were killed and 148 injured in the strike. Death tolls in Yemen's grinding conflict are often disputed, but the huge toll in Marib represents one of the bloodiest single attacks since the war erupted in 2014 when the Houthi rebels seized Sanaa.
Yemen's president told the military on Sunday it needs to be on high alert and ready for battle following an attack on Saturday by Iran-aligned Houthis on a military training camp in the city of Marib. The attack "confirms without a doubt that the Houthis have no desire for peace," Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi said, in a statement on Yemen's state news agency SABA.
Turkey on Sunday condemned the missile attack, calling on all parties to focus on humanitarian needs and avoid conflicts that might raise tensions in Yemen. In the statement, the Foreign Ministry also summoned all parties to support U.N.-led political efforts.
A proxy war has been playing out in Yemen between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Saudi-led coalition intervened in 2015 to restore Hadi's government, which the Houthis ousted from power in the capital Sanaa and is now based in the southern port city of Aden. The Houthis deny being puppets of Iran and say they are fighting a corrupt system.
The uptick in violence comes shortly after U.N. envoy Martin Griffiths welcomed a sharp reduction in airstrikes and the movement of ground forces. "We are sure, and I hope this is true and I hope it will remain so, witnessing one of the quietest periods of this conflict," he said in a briefing to the U.N. Security Council on Thursday.
A year after Yemen's warring sides agreed to a U.N.-brokered truce for the key Red Sea port city of Hodeida and its surroundings, fighting in the province has subsided but the slow implementation of the deal has quashed hopes for an end to the conflict. The landmark agreement signed in Sweden in December 2018 had been hailed as Yemen's best chance so far to end the fighting that has pushed the country to the brink of famine. Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed and millions displaced in the war that has ravaged the country, triggering what the U.N. describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
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