Intensifying clashes in Hodeidah kill dozens of fighters, civilians

Flaring battles in Yemen’s western province of Hodeidah have left dozens of fighters and civilians dead over the past five days, local officials, media reports and residents have said.

Heavy fighting broke out between government forces and Iran-backed Houthis in Hodeidah and in flashpoints in two districts in the province. The Joint Forces, an umbrella term for three major military units located on the country’s western coast, said in a statement that at least 95 Houthis, including field leaders, were killed or wounded in the fighting as the Yemeni government warned against the collapse of the Stockholm Agreement due to Houthi military escalations in the province. Two field Houthi commanders identified as Abu Taha Al-Murtadha and Abdul Wahan Mohammed Ali, together with dozens of rebels, were killed in the fighting. Their bodies are still scattered on the battlefields in Durihimi and Hays districts, the Joint Forces said. At least 12 government troops were also killed in the fighting. Under heavy artillery, tank and mortar fire, Houthis last week marched toward government-controlled areas in Hays and Durihimi, triggering fierce clashes that ended when loyalists pushed them back to their previous territory. On Saturday and Sunday, the rebels staged heavy attacks on government forces, using explosive-laden drones and heavy weapons, before retreating after suffering heavy fatalities, local army commanders said. An old woman was killed and several others were wounded in the fighting and shelling, official media and an aid organization said. The eruption of fighting in Hodeidah has prompted international medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) into putting its local health facilities on alert to handle a predicted surge in patients.