Yemeni army units backed by an Arab coalition attacked positions held by Houthis in a strategic province east of the capital on Wednesday, a day after a UN envoy delivered a peace proposal to the Houthis that control Sanaa.
A three-day ceasefire aimed at paving the way for a political settlement to Yemen’s turmoil collapsed this week, and renewed fighting is threatening UN efforts to end a 19-month war that has left millions in the Arabian peninsula’s poorest country malnourished to the point of starvation.
A Saudi-led coalition launched an offensive in March last year aimed at restoring exiled president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power and ousting the Houthis from their strongholds.
Yemeni forces fired artillery and dislodged Houthi fighters from towns in Marib province east of Sanaa on Wednesday, said Saudi state news agency SPA.
The Houthi group, who have controlled much of the north of the country since they ousted Hadi in 2015, said Saudi jets hit an ice factory near the port city of Mocha and houses and farms in the Serwah district of Marib on Tuesday night.
A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition was not immediately available to comment.
UN special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh visited Sanaa and presented the Houthis and their allies, the party of Saleh, with a roadmap addressing “security and political arrangements”, the United Nations said on Tuesday, calling on both sides to extend the three-day ceasefire and allow humanitarian aid into the country.
The Houthis said they would study the proposals.
Rajeh Badi, a spokesman for Hadi’s government, told Reuters that any peace proposal must conform to previous plans for Yemen’s political future: a 2011 Gulf initiative which eased Saleh from power, a 2014 national dialogue conference among political factions and a 2015 UN Security Council resolution calling for the Houthis to disarm and quit major cities.
“Any vision must conform to the three references,” Badi said. “The government has not received any plan from the UN envoy or the UN yet.”