Aden // A senior Yemeni army officer was killed on Wednesday in fierce clashes with Houthi rebels that threatened to unravel a UN-brokered truce.
Major General Zaid Al Howri was shot by a rebel sniper in the Baran area of Sanaa province’s Nihm district after the Houthis launched a morning attack on pro-government forces there.
The loyalists repelled the Iran-backed rebels before advancing towards Nihm’s Maswara area, capturing two hills, Al Hareem and Al Qanaseen, along the way.
"Today's advance was a response to the violation of the ceasefire by the Houthis," Mohammed Salem, a journalist based close to the fighting told The National.
He said clashes were still ongoing in Nihm district.
Other pro-government fighters and rebels were also killed in the clashes, Mr Salem said, but the exact tolls were unclear.
In Marib province to the east, meanwhile, two pro-government fighters were killed and seven wounded in several hours of overnight clashes with rebels, loyalist officer Major Abdullah Hasan said on Wedneday.
At least one rebel was killed and several wounded and captured during the fighting.
The fragile truce has been in place since Monday morning and is meant to lay the groundwork for peace talks next week in Kuwait.
All parties involved in the conflict have promised to abide by the truce, but sporadic fighting has continued.
Yemeni authorities said at least 117 violations by the rebels were recorded in seven provinces on Monday, according to the sabanew.net website.
The website quoted Yemeni foreign minister Abdulmalek Al Mikhlafi as confirming that the government will attend the peace talks in Kuwait, while criticising “Iranian interference in Yemen and its attempt to extend the conflict by sending arms” to rebels.
The Saudi-led coalition, which launched a military campaign against the Houthis last year and includes the UAE, described violations on Monday as “minor”.
Fadhl Al Rabei, an Aden-based political analyst told The National that the Houthis were responsible for violating the truce first.
“The Houthis did not respect the ceasefire and thus the coalition forces and the pro-government forces have to target them heavily, as the Houthis cannot understand the peaceful language,” said the head of the Madar Strategic Studies centre.
* With additional reporting by Agence France-Presse