Yemen’s army said on Wednesday it has recaptured positions in the northern province of Saada from Shiite rebels and carried out deadly air strikes, at the start of the fifth week of a military offensive.
“The army has in the past two days completely purged the Jabal al-Ahmar area (south of Saada city), where the terrorist elements have knocked down some communication towers,” a military official said, quoted by the state news agency Saba.
“Fighter jets have dealt the rebels a painful blow, killing many of them during the confrontations and troops have cleared the mountains of them and taken up positions there,” he said.
While there was no immediate report on the latest fighting from the rebel side, Information Minister Hassan al-Lawzi said more than 100 Zaidi Shiite rebels, also known as Huthis, had been arrested and were being interrogated.
Lawzi reiterated that a government-proposed truce, which calls for the rebels to surrender weapons seized from the army and to open up roads, was non-negotiable.
After launching its “Scorched Earth” operation on August 11, the government said on Friday it would observe a ceasefire in response to requests from aid agencies.
But fighting resumed only four hours after the truce was announced.
The United Nations says 35,000 people have been displaced during three weeks of clashes in the region and Saada city is cut off from the outside world, with food running low.
Meanwhile, four gunmen from the Saada region have been arrested near the US embassy in the capital Sanaa, authorities said. But a security source later said the group had no plans to attack the mission.
“The security services arrested four people, near the American embassy, who were in possession of a bag containing four grenades plus a separate fifth grenade and a Chinese-made assault rifle, 296 bullets and five detonators,” the interior ministry announced on its website.
The statement, issued late on Tuesday, did not say when the men were arrested.