Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Clashes between Shi’ite insurgents and Sunni tribesmen in northern Yemen have left dozens on both sides dead over Monday and Tuesday, according to reports.
AP reported that 35 people had been killed in the violence, which local sources said flared when Sunni Salafist tribesmen pushed back against Shi’ite Houthi insurgents attempting to capturing a strategically placed mountain.
In recent days, Houthi rebels have stepped up their efforts to take over the Mount Dheen, which overlooks the capital’s international airport and a key air base, a tribal source told Asharq Al-Awsat on Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The same source said that Sunni tribesmen would not allow “[Houthi] insurgents to use the [area] as a starting point for launching attacks on government targets, whether military or civil.”
The Shi’ite rebels captured the city of Amran on Tuesday, less than a week after a ceasefire agreement between the rebels and government and tribal forces collapsed.
Based in Yemen’s northwest, the group has clashed repeatedly with Yemen’s central government over the previous decade, as well as with Sunni groups it accuses of discriminating against Zaydi Shi’ites.
Spokesmen for the group deny that it intends to attack Sana’a, and say its struggle is against Islamists allied to the Al-Islah Party.
The Shi’ite insurgent group has also moved military equipment it seized from the headquarters of the Yemeni military’s 310th Brigade in Amran to their stronghold in Saada province, local security sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The loot included more than 50 tanks, armored vehicles, and Katyusha rocket launchers in addition to other heavy- and medium-sized weapons, the source added.
Meanwhile, the deterioration of the security situation in Amran and surrounding areas has taken its toll on the humanitarian situation in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a, with ongoing electricity and fuel shortages and skyrocketing prices of basic goods.
Thousands of civilians displaced by the clashes in Amran require urgent humanitarian aid, Yemen Times quoted government officials as saying.
In a report released late June, the international aid group Oxfam has warned of a serious humanitarian crisis in Yemen resulting from the government’s inability to pay for both fuel subsidies and imports.
The crisis “has pushed the price of diesel up by as much as 400 percent, far out of reach of most Yemenis,” the report continued.