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Huthis escalated their military offensive in Marib governorate while UN peace efforts remained deadlocked. In north, following end of Eid al-Adha holiday, Huthis 2 Aug ramped up their multi-front military campaign to take control of oil-rich Marib governorate – Hadi govt’s last major urban stronghold in north Yemen – and surrounding governorates with sustained attacks on tribal and govt positions in al-Jawf, Marib and al-Bayda governorates. Huthis and govt both claimed to have inflicted significant losses on rival forces in al-Jawf throughout month. Saudi-led coalition 20 Aug said it intercepted drone launched by Huthis from capital Sanaa, reflecting recent trend of intensifying cross-border attacks. In south, Riyadh 2 Aug helped broker agreement between Hadi govt and separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) over reappointment of current PM Maen Abdulmalik Saeed as well as appointment of pro-STC governor and neutral security chief in Aden city, but within days clashes between two sides broke out again in southern governorate of Abyan. STC 25 Aug announced it had withdrawn from Nov 2019 Riyadh agreement, citing “irresponsible behaviour by parties”. Tensions among anti-Huthi groups intensified after clashes erupted in Taiz city between pro-govt forces allied with Islah, Yemen’s main Sunni Islamist party, and rival groups with ties to United Arab Emirates, in early August. Huthis and Hadi govt intensified their criticisms of UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths for alleged bias: Huthis accused UN of lack of balance following UN report on violations of children rights officially published 23 Aug, while Hadi govt rejected UN’s July peace proposal on grounds it “undermines the govt’s sovereignty”. Meanwhile, Huthis 15 Aug reportedly agreed to issue visas to team of UN technical experts to inspect floating oil storage facility, FSO Safer, off coast of Huthi-held Hodeida port; facility reportedly holds around 1mn barrels of oil at risk of leaking, threatening closure of port. Huthis 20 Aug announced that security operation in al-Baydah province consolidated territorial control, and killed Islamic State (ISIS) leader Abu Al-Walid Al-Adani.
Amid rising COVID-19 cases, fighting between govt forces and Huthis in north and cross-border attacks between Huthis and Saudi Arabia intensified, while tensions in south de-escalated. In north, fighting between govt forces and Huthis escalated: Huthis 4 and 18 July fired ballistic missiles into Marib governorate, leaving four civilians injured. Saudi-led coalition 12 July launched airstrike targeting Hajja governorate in north west, killing at least nine, including seven children. Saudi airstrike near al-Hazm, capital of al-Jawf, 15 July killed at least eleven, including several children; UN special envoy next day called for investigation. Meanwhile, Huthis mid-month stepped up campaign against tribes in south of Marib governorate in effort to pressure them into breaking with govt. Cross-border war mid-July intensified after Saudi-led coalition 2 July launched series of airstrikes targeting area around Huthi-held capital Sanaa; in retaliation, Huthis 13 July reportedly launched drone and missile attacks targeting oil facility in Saudi city Jizan, Abha airport and military sites in Jizan and Najran cities; no casualties reported. Saudi-led coalition same day said it had intercepted four Huthi missiles and six bomb-laden drones targeting civilians in Saudi Arabia. In south, after Saudi Arabia in June presented new proposal to govt and Southern Transitional Council (STC) on stalled implementation of Nov 2019 Riyadh Agreement, STC 29 July rescinded its April declaration of self-administration and agreed to implement provisions of Riyadh deal, marking progress toward ending months-long power struggle between STC and UN-recognised govt; President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi 29 tasked PM Maeen Saeed with forming new govt in accordance with deal. Meanwhile, UN special envoy Martin Griffiths early July shared latest draft agreement to end conflict with govt; President Hadi 14 July publicly rejected draft on grounds that it “undermines the govt’s sovereignty”; govt reportedly criticised concessions around reopening of Sanaa airport and easing restrictions on Hodeida port. Local health authorities as of 17 July recorded more than 1,500 COVID-19 cases and 439 deaths; 50% increase in both figures from previous month. UN 15 July warned of risk of oil spill from FSO Safer oil tanker in Red Sea, which risks closure of Hodeida port that could cut off 11 million Yemenis from access to basic goods.
Amid rapid spread of COVID-19, Huthis stepped up attacks in north as well as cross-border strikes into Saudi-Arabia, while govt forces and southern separatists forged ceasefire after renewed fighting. In north, Huthi forces mid-June pursued offensive in west of Marib, pushing toward Marib city while consolidating control over territory in north despite Saudi airstrikes; Saudi-led coalition 26 June carried out series of airstrikes targeting al-Bayda and Marib. Govt forces 25 June reportedly surrounded Huthi-held al-Hazm in al-Jawf governorate. Meanwhile, simmering tensions between Huthis and local tribes in north of al-Bayda escalated mid-June; Huthis took control of village after clashes 17-18 June reportedly killed at least 23 people from both sides. Huthis mid-June intensified cross-border attacks into Saudi-Arabia: Saudi-led coalition 13, 22, 23 June reportedly intercepted Huthi drones and missiles they claimed were aimed at civilian targets in provinces along border; no casualties reported but one attack allegedly left some people injured. Huthi forces 23 June reportedly launched missiles at Saudi Defence Ministry, military base in Saudi capital Riyadh and military positions in Jizan and Najran cities; no casualties reported. In south, after Saudi Arabia 18 June reportedly presented new proposal to govt and Southern Transitional Council (STC) on implementation of Nov 2019 Riyadh Agreement, tensions escalated when STC forces 19 June captured Hadibo, capital of contested Socotra island in Gulf of Aden. Govt and southern separatists 22 June agreed to ceasefire in Abyan province, de-escalation in Socotra and talks on implementation of Nov 2019 Riyadh Agreement in Riyadh; President Hadi 27 June urged STC to adhere to agreement and “stop the bloodshed”. Meanwhile, UN Envoy Martin Griffiths 21 June condemned military escalation across Yemen, urging parties to “engage constructively with the UN efforts to reach an agreement”. Health authorities as of 21 June recorded over 1,000 COVID-19 cases and 250 deaths; fatality rate four times higher than global average. Donor countries 2 June pledged $1.35bn in funding for UN humanitarian projects in Yemen, falling $1bn short of what UN aid agencies sought.