45 dead as fighting escalates in central Yemen

Aden: Fighting intensified in Yemen’s central province of al-Bayda as the Houthi militia continued to advance on the ground Thursday, a military official said.

“The Houthis have extended their military campaign after taking key areas from government forces in al-Bayda province following fierce battles,” Xinhua News Agency said citing a local military source.

In the past 24 hours, nearly 25 Houthi rebel members and more than 20 government forces soldiers have been killed in the fighting in al-Bayda, he said.

“The Houthi militia began planning for further military gains by advancing into areas of neighboring government-controlled Abyan province,” he added.

Fierce armed clashes continue to take place in Abyan Mukayras district and other areas as government forces attempt to repel Houthi attacks, the official said.

On Wednesday, the Houthis completely seized the As Sawma’ah district in al-Bayda and deployed dozens of their fighters there after government forces withdrew.

The Iranian-allied Houthi militia recently stepped up military operations against government-controlled areas in various parts of the war-torn Arab country and succeeded in capturing key areas from Saudi-backed government forces.

Yemen has been locked in a civil war since the Iranian-backed Houthi Shiite militia militarily invaded much of the country and seized all of the northern provinces, including the capital Sana’a, in 2014.

Saudi Arabia heads an Arab military coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to support the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi after the Houthis forced him into exile.

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