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Fighting Erupts for Control of Yemen's Largest Air Base

by VOA News July 26, 2015

Intense fighting erupted Sunday in Yemen for control of the country's largest air base, with the Houthi leader rejecting a call from the Saudi-led Arab coalition fighting the insurgents for a five-day humanitarian truce.

Houthi chief Abdel-Malek al-Houthi said a cease-fire would only benefit the Islamic State and al-Qaida militants.

'The battle goes on and the war is not over,' al-Houthi was quoted as saying on his group's Twitter account.

The cease-fire began at 11:59 p.m. (2059 GMT) Sunday, but ground fighting broke out almost immediately in the restive city of Taiz following random shelling by Houthi rebels in three neighborhoods, witnesses and security officials said. Houthi forces had been holding up 16 trucks filled with humanitarian aid from the World Food Program intended for displaced people in Taiz.

Security officials said ground combat between Iranian-allied Houthi militants and Saudi-led fighters also erupted in Marib province and in the area surrounding the Al-Anad military base north of Aden in Lahj province.

The base, a strategic site commanding approaches to Aden, has been held by the Houthi movement for most of the four-month-long insurrection.

In their push north from Aden toward Al-Anad, Saudi-backed Yemeni troops and their allies also clashed with Houthi rebels in the town of Sabr, security and military officials from both sides of the conflict said.

The pro-government fighters had withdrawn from Sabr earlier Sunday after fierce battles but returned hours later following the arrival of reinforcements and wrested control of a large portion of the town, security officials said.

The officials said five pro-government fighters were killed and 15 wounded in the battle. Local medical officials said eight rebels were killed and 20 wounded.

In all, the fighting in Yemen has left more than 3,500 people dead and forced Yemeni President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia.

Some material for this report came from AP, AFP and Reuters.

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