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Despite 'Truce,' Clashes Kill 68 in Yemen


Shi'ite fighters ride on a patrol truck as they chant slogans during a tribal gathering showing support for the Houthi movement in Sana'a, Yemen, Dec. 14, 2015..

U.N.-brokered peace talks for Yemen are due to end Sunday after six days of negotiations backed by an often-violated cease-fire.

The talks in Geneva are being led by U.N. envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who expressed deep concerns about the ongoing fighting between pro-government forces and Houthi rebels.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the negotiations, saying they were the only way to end the civil war.

The parties agreed Saturday to set up a committee to oversee the fragile cease-fire.

Yemeni security officials said Saturday that at least 68 people had been killed in recent days in Hajjah province near Yemen's border with Saudi Arabia. The deaths included 40 Houthis and at least 28 government troops, with dozens more wounded on each side.

The government troops advanced across the border from Saudi territory, where they had trained for months, and engaged units allied with the Shi'ite Houthi rebels, military sources said.

The conflict between forces supporting President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi's government and the Houthi rebels has killed an estimated 5,700 people. Battles erupted in September 2014, when Houthis seized the capital, Sana'a, before pushing southward and forcing Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia as they took control of the port city of Aden.

The Saudi government, supported by other Gulf states, responded with airstrikes that have since pushed rebels out of Aden and allowed Hadi to return. Rebels still control Sana'a.

Last month, top regional U.N. official Johannes van der Klaauw said more than 21 million of the country's 27 million residents lacked basic necessities and urgently needed humanitarian assistance. He said aid workers were trying to stave off malnutrition among 3 million children and pregnant women in Yemen.

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