Saudi officials: Major fighting in Yemen ‘nearing an end’

Published March 18th, 2016 - 11:00 GMT
Yemenis extinguish fire at the scene of two suicide blasts which provoked the explosion of a motorbike in Dar Sad, north of the southern Yemeni port city of Aden, on March 16, 2016. (Saleh al-Obeidi)
Yemenis extinguish fire at the scene of two suicide blasts which provoked the explosion of a motorbike in Dar Sad, north of the southern Yemeni port city of Aden, on March 16, 2016. (Saleh al-Obeidi)

The Saudi-led coalition battling the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen has announced major fighting in the country is drawing to an end, a year after Saudi Arabia began its military campaign in neighboring Yemen, Reuters reported.

Clashes on the two main frontlines in Yemen, on the Saudi border and in the city of Taiz, have calmed this month after tribal mediation resulting in a prisoner swap.

The coalition spokesman Brig. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri told Saudi TV channel al-Arabiya that "the major fighting in Yemen is nearing and end... (and) the next phase is restoring stability and reconstructing the country."

Saudi Arabia began its military campaign after Houthi fighters overran much of the country, including Yemen's capital of Sanaa, forcing the Saudi-allied government into exile.

In recent days Assiri and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir have said that any peace talks can only take place between Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and the Houthis, through the UN special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

Assiri had announced in April, just one month into the military involvement that major operations had ended, saying the coalition had "neutralized most of the military capabilities of the Houthi militias and their allies that represented a threat to Yemen and neighboring countries."

However, as time went on, fighting intensified as the Saudi coalition added ground troops to support Yemeni forces and drastically stepped up airstrikes.

More than 6,000 Yemenis have been killed in the fighting since the Saudi operations began last year, about half of them civilians.


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