Forces loyal to Yemen’s government fought their way into the province surrounding the capital on Monday, tribal sources said, the closest they have advanced toward Sanaa since the Houthi movement seized it in September last year.
The advance comes despite a conditional agreement to extend a seven-day truce in Yemen, following a week of UN-sponsored peace talks in Switzerland in which the parties reached a broad framework for ending the nine-month-old war that has killed nearly 6,000 people.
“(President Abed Rabbo Mansour) Hadi’s forces took control of two mountains in the Nihm district in Sanaa province,” one tribal source said. The area is about 60 km northeast of the capital.
UN Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed had voiced deep concern at “numerous reports of violations of the cessation of hostilities” and set up a mechanism to strengthen compliance, a UN statement said.
The peace talks are scheduled to resume on Jan. 14. The location had yet to be set, although both Switzerland and Ethiopia are possible venues.
The parties also agreed to set up a military de-escalation committee and to develop a package of confidence building measures such as prisoner releases.
Before dawn Monday, Saudi Arabia intercepted a missile fired from Yemen into the southern Jazan district, the coalition said.
Meanwhile, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said diplomatic efforts are being made to open “direct dialogue” between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
“Diplomatic efforts are underway between Iran and Saudi Arabia to prepare the ground for direct dialogue to resolve differences and regional issues,” Hossein Jaber, ministry spokesman, Ansari told reporters in Tehran.