Yemeni government troops newly-trained by a Saudi-led coalition battling Yemen's Shiite rebels routed al-Qaida militants on Friday from a city in the country's south, military officials said. Houta, the capital of Lahj province, is now firmly under government control, the officials said. The coalition-trained troops, which are loyal to Yemen's internationally recognized government, were based in the southern Al-Anad base from where they launched the fight to retake the provincial capital, they added. The officials said the militants fled on Friday from Houta to nearby towns and farmland. The assault came at a time the coalition helicopters and U.S. drones have waged series of airstrikes targeting al-Qaida hideouts and strongholds across Yemen's southern region.
Yemen's Shiite rebels backed out of U.N.-brokered peace talks just hours before the negotiations were to start Monday in Kuwait, demanding an immediate halt to airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition that has waged a year-long war against them, officials said. It was not immediately clear if the negotiations were completely scuttled. According to two media officials linked to the Shiite rebels known as Houthis, rebel representatives have delayed their trip to Kuwait. The rebel delegation would not go unless there is a "full halt to the airstrikes" by the Saudi-led coalition, the two officials told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters. A statement issued Monday afternoon on behalf of the U.N. envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, described the Kuwait talks as "delayed" and gave no details on when they might resume.
The Saudi-led coalition that has been bombing Yemen's Houthi rebels for more than a year said it will adhere to a cease-fire that took effect just before midnight Sunday, and the rebels also pledged to halt hostilities. The coalition said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency that it retains the right to respond to any violations of the cease-fire, but that it intends to halt all airstrikes and hostilities in preparation for U.N.-sponsored peace talks scheduled to take place in Kuwait on April 18. The Houthis later issued their own statement in which they promised to abide by the cease-fire while reserving the right to respond to any potential violations. There have been previous rounds of cease-fires between the warring sides. This latest attempt, announced by the U.N. envoy to Yemen last month, is scheduled to begin at 11:59 p.m. (2059 GMT) Sunday.
SANAA, Yemen – Yemen's Shiite rebels on Saturday handed over control of the main port in the Red Sea city of Hodeida to the country's navy and coast guard under U.N. supervision, security officials said, in a significant step in the implementation of a deal reached during peace talks in Sweden earlier this month. The handover is the first in a series of confidence-building measures agreed to in Sweden that could pave the way for a political settlement of Yemen's 4-year-old war pitting the Iran-aligned rebels known as Houthis against the internationally recognized government backed since 2015 by a Saudi-led coalition. The rebels control most of northern Yemen, including the capital Sanaa, while their war foes control much of the south, including the Arabian Sea port city of Aden, where the exiled government is located. The two sides have observed a cease-fire in Hodeida for more than a week, ending months of fierce fighting between the two sides for control of Hodeida. A U.N. team led by a Dutch officer arrived last week in the city to monitor the cease-fire.
SANAA, Yemen – A U.N.-brokered cease-fire was mostly holding across war-torn Yemen on Monday except in the besieged city of Taiz where shelling killed at least one person and wounded five, according to residents. There were also sporadic exchanges of gunfire in other parts of the country after the truce between the Saudi-led coalition, which backs Yemen's internationally recognized government, and the Shiite rebels known as Houthis went into effect at midnight Sunday. In the capital, Sanaa, which has been under the Houthis' control since September 2014, the coalition largely halted its airstrikes. But in the district of Naham, on the fringes of Sanaa province, fighting continued overnight between armed men backing the government and the Houthis, according to residents there. The residents in both in Taiz and in Naham spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for their safety.