A Houthi rebel fighter fires in the air during a gathering aimed at mobilizing more fighters for the Houthi movement, in Sanaa,…
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.

UNITED NATIONS - 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. 

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