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Yemen Government Claims More Success Against Houthi Rebels


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Yemeni government forces are claiming they killed another 59 fighters in their battle against Zaidi Shi'ite rebels, near the northern town of Saada.

Fighting between Yemeni government forces and Zaidi Shi'ite rebels loyal to leader Abdemalik al-Houthi continues to rage in many pockets across the mountainous northern province of Saada, as both sides struggle for control of the area.

The Yemeni defense ministry is claiming to have killed 59 Houthi fighters in a series of recent skirmishes, while a Houthi Web site is also claiming to have inflicted casualties on government forces.

The government says it "repelled" a rebel attack on the northern outskirts of Saada city and says it "made major progress in expelling [them] from the regions of Maqa'ash and Anad."

Editor-in-chief Hakim Almasmari of the Yemen Post newspaper says government forces have inflicted serious casualties on the Houthi rebels, but the rebels still cling to large swathes of territory in and around Saada.

"Over the last two weeks, the government has had many successes on the ground. Over 300 Houthi [rebels] have been killed," said Almasmari. "But in reality the Houthis still control large parts of Saada, even though many of their followers have been killed."

Egypt and Saudi Arabia are continuing efforts to mediate a truce agreement in Saada.

But Almasmari says there is no let up in fighting, despite talk of negotiations.

"There is continuous fighting going on and the fighting right now in Saada is in 15 different places," he said. "It is not only in one side of Saada. It is in many different cities or towns in Saada and Amran. The government announces that it is winning all the fronts, but according to our sources, the government is winning when it comes to followers [of Houthi] killed, but the government is losing when it comes to taking control of these lands and places."

Meanwhile, humanitarian groups such as the Yemeni Red Crescent Society and the UNHCR are struggling to bring aid to thousands of refugees displaced by the fighting.

UNHCR spokesman Andrew Knight says there has been another delay in delivering aid from a relief convoy that crossed the border Sunday from Saudi Arabia.

"The trucks carrying humanitarian assistance at the border region transferred the NFIs [non-food items] onto the trucks of our implementing partners, and from there, went to the warehouse," said Knight. "Unfortunately, due to a couple of technical issues, distribution was not able to take place today, but we are hoping it is going to take place tomorrow."

The United Nations estimates there are up to 150,000 displaced people from the sporadic conflict in Saada province, which first began in 2004.