Rival forces fought on in Yemen on Wednesday despite a declared halt to a Saudi-led bombing campaign, showing how tough it may be to find a political solution to a war stirring animosities between rival Gulf powers Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Tuesday’s announcement by Riyadh that it would end its campaign of air strikes against the Iranian-allied Houthis drew positive responses from both the White House and Tehran, as well as fresh calls for peace talks and for urgent deliveries of humanitarian aid.
But hours later, Houthi fighters captured the compound of an army brigade loyal to the government in Yemen’s central city of Taiz following heavy fighting. A Saudi air strike was conducted on the brigade headquarters shortly afterwards, residents said.
The brigade, along with several other formations, had declared its loyalty to exiled president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, opening up a new front in the conflict against the Houthis.
Militiamen in southern Yemen said late on Tuesday they would continue fighting the Houthis until they drove them out of the region, despite Saudi Arabia saying its month-old campaign against the Houthis had met its goals.
Southerners and Houthis fought clashes on Wednesday around the southern town of Dalea, a hotbed of southern separatism which has changed hands several times in the conflict.
“This front will not stop its fight until all the south is purified from the Houthis and pro-Saleh forces,” a statement by a group called the southern resistance movement said.