Some 150 Houthi rebels and pro-government soldiers have been killed in a week of fighting south of the strategic city of Hodeidah in Yemen, according to an . report from military and medical sources on Monday. The conflict between the Iranian-backed Houthis and the Saudi-backed government since 2014 has plunged this poor country on the Arabian Peninsula into the world’s worst humanitarian crisis according to the UN.
According to a pro-government military source, the fighting was provoked by attacks by the rebels, who hold the port city of Hodeida (southwest) and seek to extend their control further south where loyalist forces are positioned.
The clashes are the most violent since the entry into force of a UN-brokered truce in December 2018, residents reported, indicating that they had not given rise to a rebel advance.
“The death toll of both parties has reached around 150 dead and 260 wounded in one week,” an official from forces loyal to the government told ..
This assessment was confirmed on the rebel side by one of the local insurgent leaders.
The fighting, which is not known to have claimed civilian lives, waned on Monday, after violent clashes on Saturday and Sunday.
Pro-government forces “have countered several rebel assaults, killing 44 of them at the cost of 27 dead in their own ranks,” said two other sources in power.
Doctors and rescuers have put forward a toll of 70 dead and dozens of injured on both sides for the days of Saturday and Sunday alone.
Doctors Without Borders reported on Twitter about “renewed clashes on the front lines in southern Hodeida”. The NGO added that it was working to put in place a plan to “respond to the influx of injured” in health centers.
In early January, five women were killed when a shell was fired at a wedding hall near the Hodeidah airport, located on the front line.
With tens of thousands dead, millions displaced and a population on the brink of famine, war has ravaged Yemen. And the UN’s predictions for 2021 remain pessimistic, referring in particular to “16 million people who will suffer from hunger”.