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Saudi Arabia-led coalition continued offensive toward Hodeida from south and north along Red Sea coast. Saudi-led coalition forces around Midi north of Hodeida remained largely static while UAE-assisted Yemeni forces pushing northward made progress and mid-Feb appeared to have captured Mokha city, Taiz governorate. Huthi rebels and forces aligned with former President Saleh put up strong resistance, 22 Feb killed army’s second in command near Mokha. Huthi-Saleh forces increased raids across Yemeni-Saudi border and ballistic missile attacks into Saudi Arabia; 6 Feb said they had launched missile capable of striking Saudi capital Riyadh. U.S. increased in-flight refuelling of Saudi-led coalition aircraft and worked to reverse Obama administration’s decisions to limit weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. Infighting plagued govt-controlled areas: supporters of UAE-aligned Salafi faction clashed repeatedly in Taiz city with Saudi-backed group aligned with Sunni Islamist party, Islah; President Hadi-aligned fighters 12 Feb tried, unsuccessfully, to forcibly take Aden airport from commander who had fallen out with president; during offensive UAE gunship exchanged fire with Hadi-aligned fighters.
Fighting intensified as Saudi-led coalition and aligned Yemeni troops 7 Jan launched campaign to retake area around Bab al-Mandeb strait between Yemen and Djibouti in SW and southern part of Red Sea coastline from Huthi rebels and forces supporting former President Saleh, and increased military pressure in north including in Saada, Hajjah, Jawf and Marib governorates. Govt-aligned forces claimed to have retaken Dhubab district on Red Sea coast 13 Jan and Mokha city further north 23 Jan, but fighting continued end month. Two U.S. drone strikes (first drone strikes under new U.S. President Trump) 21 Jan killed ten alleged al-Qaeda militants in al-Bayda province. U.S. Special Forces attacked al-Qaeda stronghold in al-Bayda 29 Jan killing fourteen militants according to U.S. military and causing civilian casualties, according to Yemeni official, including killing eight women and seven children. UNOCHA 16 Jan said at least 10,000 civilians killed since conflict began in March 2015.
Two suicide bombings claimed by Islamic State in Aden in south 10 and 18 Dec each killed over 50 soldiers. U.S. military 22 Dec said it killed 28 members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen in nine strikes between 23 Sept and 13 Dec. Huthi rebels and forces aligned with former President Saleh stepped up efforts to capture Taiz in south, continued to launch rockets into Saudi Arabia and tried to take more Saudi territory. Saudi-led coalition intensified bombing in north 13 Dec especially around Sanaa and Hodeidah. U.S. Sec State Kerry visited Saudi Arabia 18 Dec to try to persuade all parties to accept ceasefire and support UN roadmap to end conflict.
Saudi-led coalition airstrikes and rebel missile attacks continued, undermining UN attempts to secure a ceasefire and renew peace talks. Saudi-led coalition 8 Oct bombed funeral in Sanaa, killing at least 140 including mayor of Sanaa and several military generals and injuring over 500. Next day Huthi rebels aligned with former President Saleh launched two missiles into Saudi Arabia, including one reportedly targeting military base in Taif some 520km from Yemen border (see Saudi Arabia). Under UK and U.S. pressure, Saudi-led coalition 15 Oct acknowledged responsibility for funeral bombing but blamed wrong intelligence from govt of internationally recognised President Hadi; allowed Huthi-Saleh negotiating team to return from Omani capital Muscat to Sanaa 15 Oct and for same plane to evacuate wounded. Huthi forces reportedly launched missiles at U.S. warships in Red Sea 9, 12 and 15 Oct but missed; Huthis denied responsibility, but U.S. warships 13 Oct retaliated with missile strikes on three Huthi-controlled coastal radar stations. UK, U.S. and UN special envoy 16 Oct called for immediate unconditional ceasefire and resumption of talks. Both sides broke UN-sponsored 72-hour ceasefire 20-22 Oct. Hadi 29 Oct rejected UN peace plan including Huthi withdrawals and new unity govt. Car bomb exploded same day outside central bank HQ in Aden, moved from Sanaa in Sept, and Saudi-led coalition airstrikes killed twelve civilians from one family in Taiz in south and over 40 at prison in Hodeidah province in west. Huthis and allies 30 Oct conditionally accepted UN proposal as basis for further talks.
As U.S.-led peace efforts foundered and fighting continued, govt’s decision to move Central Bank from Sanaa to Aden risked provoking more intense violence in coming weeks. Building on initiative by U.S. Sec State Kerry late Aug, U.S. proposed revised peace plan including 72-hour ceasefire to Huthi rebels 8-9 Sept. Huthis 25 Sept said they would stop attacks if Saudi-led coalition stopped bombing and lifted naval blockade; Saudi Arabia rejected truce. Saudi Arabia-led coalition continued airstrikes in Huthi-controlled areas killing at least 58 civilians in Saada and Hajjah provinces in north during month and 26 civilians in residential neighbourhood of Hodeida in NW 21 Sept. Govt forces supported by Saudi-led coalition and Huthi/Saleh fighters continued to battle over Serwah area in Marib province and Midi district in Hajjah province. Huthi rebels continued firing missiles into Saudi Arabia and launching cross-border ground assaults: rebels captured military post in Jizan region, Saudi Arabia 11 Sept. President Hadi’s govt 19 Sept fired Central Bank director and said it would move bank from Huthi-controlled Sanaa to govt-controlled Aden, alleging that bank was financing Huthis. Govt with U.S. backing continued fight against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP): U.S. drone strikes 24 Aug-4 Sept killed thirteen militants in Shabwah province; militants 11 Sept clashed with pro-govt forces in Zinjibar, Abyan province; suspected U.S. drone strikes in Marib and Bayda provinces 20-24 Sept killed fourteen suspected militants; armed forces 26 Sept killed AQAP local commander Abdullah Hubaibat in Loder, Abyan province.
Peace talks collapsed and fighting escalated. UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed 6 Aug announced talks suspended for one month; govt and Huthi rebels disagreed over sequencing of withdrawal of rebel forces from cities, disarmament and formation of unity govt. Huthis increased rocket attacks into Saudi Arabia and tried to hold territory there as Saudi Arabia-led coalition resumed airstrikes on capital Sanaa after three months’ break and on Huthi northern strongholds. Saudi-led coalition airstrikes 13 Aug killed nineteen people, mostly children in Saada province (NW), 15 Aug hit Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Hajjah (NW) killing fifteen. Saudi-led coalition renewed efforts to retake Sanaa through NW entrance at Nehm. Tens of thousands rallied in Sanaa 20 Aug in support of Huthi rebels and ex-President Saleh; Saudi-led coalition same day bombed Sanaa, reportedly killing three civilians. U.S. Sec State Kerry 25 Aug proposed new peace plan to form unity govt; Huthi rebels 28 Aug said they would restart talks when Saudi-led coalition stopped bombing. Islamic State suicide bombing on pro-govt militia compound in Aden 29 Aug killed at least 60.
Talks between govt and Huthi rebels faltered as fighting continued in Yemen and escalated across Yemen-Saudi Arabia border. Talks resumed in Kuwait 16 July after two-week break but parties failed to agree on sequencing of political solution and military withdrawals; Kuwait extended 30 July deadline for deal to 7 Aug. Huthis and ex-President Saleh’s General People’s Congress party 28 July formed joint Supreme Political Council to replace Huthi’s ruling Revolutionary Committee. Neither side made significant military gains. Govt reinforced troops north of Sanaa in Nihm, al-Jawf and Marib and reiterated threats to retake Sanaa by force. Clashes escalated between Huthi-Saleh forces and Saudi security forces at Yemeni-Saudi border, Huthis launched at least two ballistic missiles into Saudi territory and Saudi-led coalition bombed Huthi positions. Fighting in Taiz in S continued. Two suicide bombings at military checkpoints 18 July west of Mukalla in SE claimed by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) killed at least eleven people. Militants carried out car bombings and attempted assassinations in Abyan governorate and Aden; AQAP sub-group Ansar al-Sharia claimed 6 July attack on al-Solban military base and 15 July attempted killing of governor and police chief in Aden.
Fighting between Saudi-led coalition forces and Huthi rebels continued as peace talks made slow progress, UN 29 June said talks adjourned until 15 July. Battle for Taiz continued throughout month; over 250 fighters and civilians reportedly killed and injured 3-4 June. Fighting continued in north and intensified in southern Shabwa and Lahj governorates. UAE-backed forces increased arrests of suspected alQaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants in southern Hadramout governorate, 9 June raided HQ of Sunni Islamist Islah Party in Mukalla and arrested director for suspected ties with AQAP. Multiple suicide bombings and other attacks targeting security forces 27 June in Mukalla claimed by Islamic State (IS) killed at least 42 people. PM bin Dagher and several ministers returned from exile to Aden 6 June; several officials left days later amid persistent insecurity. UN-sponsored talks in Kuwait bore some fruit: Saudi-led coalition released 52 child detainees 5 June and HuthiSaleh forces released 187 prisoners. Separately local tribes 18 June mediated release in Taiz of 76 pro-govt fighters in exchange for 118 Huthis.
Peace talks between govt and Huthi/Saleh bloc progressed slowly, as fighting continued. Parties 26 May said they had agreed to exchange prisoners, but had not yet agreed numbers; 30 May discussed creation of mixed military committees to oversee withdrawal of Huthis and allies. Huthi rebels launched at least three missiles at Saudi Arabia from northern governorates provoking it to escalate bombing on Huthi positions. Saudi-led coalition 14 May began sending significant reinforcements to Marib governorate east of Sanaa; spokesman said coalition would take Sanaa militarily if talks fail. Saudi-led coalition-backed fighters 28 May launched offensive in Shabwa governorate taking territory from Huthi/Saleh forces on Shabwa-Marib border. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Islamic State (IS) attacked Yemeni forces in eastern Mukalla: suicide bomber 11 May wounded military commander of Hadramout region and killed eight others, IS claimed 12 May attack on naval base and military compound and 15 May suicide bomb that killed 25 police recruits. IS claimed 23 May suicide car bombing that killed at least 40 army recruits in Aden. Pro-govt southern separatist militias 8 May expelled from southern Aden hundreds of northerners accused of having links with Huthis, President Hadi called move “unacceptable”.
UN-sponsored talks between govt and Huthi/Saleh bloc began 21 April, two days late, after Huthi and former President Saleh’s General People’s Congress (GPC) delegation 17 April refused to attend until UN envoy assured them Saudi Arabia-led coalition would respect 10 April cessation of hostilities and that agenda had not been changed without their approval. Parties agreed new agenda for talks 26 April. Govt suspended participation in joint sessions 1 May after Huthis 30 April seized Amaliqa military base N of Sanaa. Fighting continued including in Taiz (S), Marib (E) and Nihm (NE of Sanaa). In south govt-aligned Yemeni fighters backed by coalition airstrikes and United Arab Emirates troops 24 April retook Hadramout provincial capital, Mukalla, and environs from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Suspected U.S. drone strike reportedly killed three AQAP leaders 25 April in Zinjibar, NE of Aden. In Aden, suicide car bomb exploded 28 April outside security chief’s home, wounding at least two people.
Ceasefire agreements and commitment to talks in April raised hopes for possible de-escalation of conflict. Saudia Arabia and Huthis early March agreed to halt hostilities along Yemen-Saudi Arabia border and exchanged prisoners, nine Saudis for 109 Yemenis; agreement paved way for wider negotiations. UN envoy 23 March said cessation of hostilities between govt and Huthi/Saleh bloc would begin 10 April, followed by talks in Kuwait one week later. Violence continued elsewhere: anti-Huthi forces 12 March captured territory in southern Taiz area, partially breaking siege on Taiz city, but Huthi/Saleh forces reportedly regained much lost territory late March. Saudi-led coalition airstrike in NW Hajjah governorate 15 March killed 119 civilians, including 22 children. Coalition spokesman 17 March said major combat operations ending soon. Gunmen 4 March attacked nursing home in Aden, killing sixteen civilians. Government forces 12-13 March fought al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Aden’s Mansoura district, reportedly regained control of parts of Mansoura 30 March. U.S. 22 March launched airstrike on AQAP training camp near Mukalla, killing over 50 militants, suspected drone strike 30 March reportedly killed four AQAP militants. Three suicide bombers 25 March attacked checkpoints in Aden killing 26, injuring dozens, Islamic State claimed responsibility.
Military stalemate persists as disagreement over ceasefire conditions stalls next round of UN talks. Saudi Arabia-backed pro-govt forces early month launched offensive in north to capture territory from Huthis; fighting continues over and around the strategic Fardhat Nihm military base, 70km NE of rebel-held capital Sanaa. UN humanitarian chief 16 Feb criticised all parties for obstructing aid, UN special envoy 17 Feb asked UNSC to push for ceasefire. In south, Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) continued to expand military operations and influence: AQAP early month captured towns in Shebwa and Abyan governorates. Multiple attacks in Aden, govt’s temporary capital: AQAP fighters 8-10 Feb clashed with govt forces; gunmen 16 Feb attempted unsuccessfully to assassinate Aden’s governor and security chief; IS claimed 17 Feb suicide bombing that killed at least thirteen army recruits; gunman 22 Feb killed senior army officer. Suspected U.S. drone strike 14 Feb killed IS leader Jalal Belaidi.
Fighting intensified as Saudi-backed coalition stepped up air campaign, mostly targeting Sanaa, in response to Huthi/Saleh bloc cross-border incursions and rocket attacks, after ending temporary truce 2 Jan (which in practice was never honoured by either side); UNSC 5 Jan urged warring parties to resume ceasefire. Rights groups accused Saudi-led coalition of dropping cluster munitions in Sanaa 6 Jan. Leaked UN panel of experts report 27 Jan accused Saudi airstrikes of targeting civilians in a “widespread and systematic” manner; Saudi-led coalition 31 Jan said it had launched investigation. Huthi/Saleh forces and Saudi-backed coalition redoubling efforts to gain new territory in disputed areas: Saudi-backed govt forces 6 Jan reportedly landed by sea at Red Sea port of Maydee near border and on 24 Jan landed military vehicles and reinforcements to retake other border territories as well as Red Sea coast from Huthis; battle continued over western parts of Marib province and southern city Taiz, where Huthi/Saleh forces maintained blockade. Yemeni military officers supported by Saudi-led coalition 26 Jan announced preparations to “liberate” Huthi-controlled governorate Dammar, south of Sanaa. UN-sponsored talks scheduled for 14 Jan delayed as both sides made new demands for restarting negotiations: Huthis calling for ceasefire and Hadi govt insisting Huthis lift siege of Taiz, release additional political prisoners. Huthis 14 Jan released detained minister and four activists in move aimed at renewing ceasefire. Escalating regional tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran further complicated peace prospects (see Iran). Iran 7 Jan accused Saudi Arabia of airstrike on its embassy in Sanaa; Riyadh denied. Lawlessness and expansion of jihadi groups continued to plague south, particularly Aden; car bomb 17 Jan reportedly killed ten outside Aden security chief’s home; another suicide car bombing 28 Jan killed at least eleven outside presidential palace.
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