12 Killed Overnight in Yemen Fighting

12 Killed Overnight  in Yemen Fighting12 Killed Overnight  in Yemen Fighting

At least 12 people were killed in overnight battles in the Yemeni city of Taiz between Houthis and militiamen, residents and medical sources said on Sunday.

The fighting in Taiz comes despite a five-day humanitarian truce which began on Tuesday to distribute aid to the millions deprived of food, fuel and medicine by weeks of fighting, Reuters reported.

Some fighting also took place in the city of Dhalea on Saturday night but there was no immediate information on casualties.

Saudi Arabia, leading a coalition of Arab states backed by the West, has pounded Houthi forces and fighters loyal to Yemen’s former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh since March 26, aiming to restore fugitive president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

Meanwhile some leading figures from Saleh’s political party, the General People’s Congress (GPC), have gone to Riyadh and pledged loyalty to Hadi’s government.

Those figures issued a statement late on Saturday asking for Saleh to step down as president of the GPC and declared they would take part in the Riyadh talks.

 Saudi-Sponsored Conference

A conference between Yemeni political groups scheduled by Hadi’s government members started Sunday in Riyadh before the ceasefire ends.

The conference was rejected by both the Houthis and fighters loyal to former president Saleh, meaning it will not provide an opportunity for direct talks.

Despite objections to holding the conference in Riyadh by Houthis and Saleh loyalists, Saudi Arabia aims to bring together other Yemen’s warring factions, including leading members of Saleh’s party, but not the Houthis.

The Houthi group maintains that they’ll participate in a UN-sponsored dialogue in Geneva, whose date has yet to be officially announced.

Earlier Sunday, Yemeni political sources told Anadolu News Agency that the conference will tackle the implementation of UN resolutions pertaining to Yemen, the reconstruction of the country’s war-afflicted regions and the means to form a national Yemeni army whose loyalty wouldn’t reside with any individuals or factions.

 Call for Truce Extension

A UN envoy called for an extension of a humanitarian cease-fire in Yemen due to expire on Sunday as the Houthis boycotted political talks in Riyadh.

“I call on all parties to renew their commitment to this truce for five more days at least,” UN envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Sheikh Ahmed said in the Saudi capital.

“This humanitarian truce should turn into a permanent cease-fire,” the Mauritanian diplomat added.

Aid groups have also called for a lasting truce in the impoverished country, where a Saudi-led alliance has been waging an air campaign against Houthis.

The UN has expressed deep concern about the civilian death toll from the Saudi-led bombing as well as the humanitarian impact of an air and sea blockade imposed by the coalition.

The Yemen conflict has resulted in massive humanitarian suffering. More than 1,500 have been killed in the Yemen conflict, among them many civilians. More than 4,000 are injured, tens of thousands have fled their homes to escape violence and the country’s infrastructure is “on the brink of collapse,” according to the UN.