Last updated: 17 June, 2014

Yemen air force strikes Shiite rebels

Yemeni warplanes hit Shiite rebel positions Tuesday in the north, where the army has come under repeated attacks after the collapse of a short-lived truce, local and military officials said.

The latest fighting with Huthi rebels, also known as Ansarullah, erupted Sunday, ending an 11-day truce reached through mediation backed by United Nations envoy Jamal Benomar.

The Tuesday raids targeted rebel positions in the villages of Salata, Sahab and Bani Maymun, located at the foot of the strategic Jabal al-Dhine mountain, an army official said.

Rebels and allied tribesmen have been trying to control the rocky mountain that overlooks the road linking Sanaa with the rebel stronghold of Amran.

Tribal and local sources said Huthis blocked the road on Tuesday.

“The air raids are aimed at easing pressure on army positions at Jabal al-Dhine, where Huthis and their tribal allies carried out repeated attacks against troops over the past three days,” the military official told AFP, without being able to provide a casualty toll.

Local and tribal sources told AFP dozens have been killed on both sides since Sunday.

Late Monday, suspected rebels sabotaged main power lines, leaving the provinces of Amran and neighbouring Hajja in total darkness, tribal and local sources said.

Warplanes launched similar raids on rebel positions south of Amran city on June 3. The sides agreed the short-lived ceasefire the following day.

The Huthis are suspected of trying to broaden their sphere of influence as Yemen is reorganised into six regions, pushing out from their mountain strongholds in the far north to areas closer to Sanaa.

They complain that Yemen would be divided into rich and poor regions under a federalisation plan agreed in February following national talks as part of a political transition.

Huthis have been battling the central government for years, complaining of marginalisation under ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who stepped down in 2012 after a year-long uprising.

In February, they seized areas of the northern province of Amran in fighting with tribes that killed more than 150.