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UN Security Council Urges Immediate End to Fighting in Yemen

FILE - A Houthi rebel fires into the air during a gathering aimed at mobilizing more fighters for the movement, in Sanaa, Yemen, Aug. 1, 2019. The Yemen conflict began with the 2014 takeover of Sanaa by the Houthis.

The U.N. Security Council called Thursday for an immediate end to a ``significant'' escalation in fighting in Yemen between Houthi Shiite rebels and the Saudi-led military coalition supporting the government.

Member nations on the U.N.'s most powerful body ``underlined their disappointment'' at the return to violence in a statement, saying it ``threatens to undermine progress made during the recent period of de-escalation in Yemen.''

The council expressed hope ``that a renewed de-escalation would create space for the Yemeni parties to move towards comprehensive and inclusive U.N.-led negotiations urgently, on the security and political arrangements necessary to end the conflict and move towards a peaceful transition.''

The council statement followed a briefing Tuesday by the U.N. special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths. He urged a halt to the recent ``alarming military escalation'' in fighting ``before it is too late.''

Less than two weeks ago, Griffiths had reported to the council on a major reduction in military operations and other initiatives. He expressed hope then that this would lead to talks between the government and Iranian-backed Houthis on ending the five-year conflict in the Arab world's poorest nation.

The U.S.-backed Arab coalition battling to restore Yemen's internationally recognized government stepped up airstrikes in recent days on rebel targets northeast of the capital, Sanaa, while the Houthis shelled government-held areas.