Heavy fighting between government forces and rebels in north and west Yemen has left 51 dead, officials said, ending hopes for a ceasefire that was supposed to take effect Thursday.
They said forces loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi have clashed since Tuesday with Ansarullah Houthi rebels and allied renegade troops in the country’s northwest, near the border with Saudi Arabia.
The fighting broke out as loyalists launched an attack on three fronts to recapture the coastal town of Midi and nearby Haradh, the officials said. Fifteen loyalists and 23 rebels were killed in the fighting, they reported.
Elsewhere, nine rebels and four soldiers were killed in fighting on the outskirts of the flashpoint city of Taez, in southwest Yemen, military officials said.
Despite calls for a cease-fire and peace talks, Saudi Arabia, head of the anti-Houthi coalition, said Thursday that military operations in Yemen will continue.
“Until now there is no demand from the legitimate government to observe a ceasefire,” coalition chief Major General Ahmed Assiri told AFP. “Consequently, the operations of the Yemeni army, supported by the coalition, will continue.” Fighting in Taez and its surroundings Tuesday killed 39 people, including five civilians, 20 soldiers and 14 rebels, military officials said.
The U.N. says more than 10,000 people have been killed and nearly 37,000 wounded in Yemen since the Arab coalition launched a military campaign in March 2015 in support of the government against the Houthi rebels.
Millions are in need of food aid, and another 21 million people urgently need health services, according to the United Nations.
The rebels said Wednesday they were ready to stop fighting and join a cease-fire starting Thursday and join a national unity government, but Hadi’s government said it was not aware of any new peace initiative and rejected the cease-fire.