Middle East

Yemeni forces seize northern provincial capital from rebels

Supporters of Shiite Huthi rebels and militiamen shout slogans during a rally against the Saudi-led coalition, which has been leading the war against the Iran-backed rebels, on December 17, 2015 in Sanaa.(AFP PHOTO / ABDEL RAHMAN ABDALLAH)

ADEN: Yemeni forces and allied tribes captured Friday the capital of the northern Jawf province, the second rebel town to fall in 24 hours as a ceasefire appears to have collapsed, tribal sources said.

News of Hazm's fall came as the Saudi-led coalition that has fought rebels for months said two ballistic missiles were launched from at Saudi Arabia from Yemen.

Troops loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and allied tribesmen seized Hazm after making significant gains in Marib, to the immediate south of Jawf, the sources said.

On Thursday, Yemeni troops captured the northwestern town of Haradh after crossing over from Saudi Arabia where they had been trained and equipped.

About 1,000 soldiers were involved in the operation to take the town, a military official said, adding that "intensive fighting took place in Haradh".

He said dozens of renegade troops allied with the Iran-backed Huthi Shiite rebels had been killed.

Riyadh said that one missile fired Friday was intercepted by the kingdom's air defenses, while the other hit an area of desert east of the Saudi city of Najran.

It did not mention any casualties.

A spokesman of troops loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh acknowledged firing two ballistic missiles.

But contrary to the coalition claim of shooting down one missile over Marib, Brigadier General Sharaf Luqman said a Tochka missile targeted a base for "mercenaries" in Marib.

He said another missile, Qahir 1, targeted an assembly point for "aggression forces" in Najran, adding that the missiles were launched in "retaliation" for violations of the truce by the coalition.

Clashes have been frequent along the Saudi border, where rebel strikes have killed more than 80 people since March, when the coalition campaign against the rebels began.

The fragile ceasefire has been repeatedly violated since it took effect on Tuesday to coincide with U.N.-sponsored peace talks being held behind closed doors in Switzerland, and the coalition warned that it was close to abandoning it.

 

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