Dozens of fighters loyal to Yemen’s Houthi rebels were killed and 30 others injured during clashes with the national army in the southern province of Al Dhalea, Saudi State news agency said on Wednesday.
The rebel fighters were in the northern Mureis district, north of Al Dhalea, where there was fierce fighting after the Houthis seized parts of the province last April.
“Over 20 fighters were killed and 30 injured during clashes with Yemen’s army,” a statement by the Saudi press agency said.
Al Dhalea has symbolic importance as it was the first province to be retaken from the rebels, two months after they seized it in 2015.
“The rebels were attempting to infiltrate a number of Yemen’s army posts in two villages, Solan and Tabat Al Khazan, in the Northern Province,” the agency quoted the representative of Yemen’s Defence Ministry as saying.
The Houthi cultural representative in Al Dhalea, Abu Faida, was killed in the clashes, the statement said.
The battle in Mureis has become the latest flashpoint in Yemen’s war because of the presence of a large number of fighters from both sides and also the importance of Al Dhalea. The province sits halfway between the rebel-held Sanaa province in northern Yemen and the southern province of Aden where the government is based.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE are leading the Arab Coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to restore the internationally recognised government, which was pushed out of the capital Sanaa after the Houthis seized it in late 2014.
Yemen’s civil war has resulted in the death of tens of thousands of people and left millions on the brink of famine, the UN says.