Pro-government forces fire from a tank during fighting with Shiite Huthi militants in Al-Karsh in Yemen's southern Lahj province. Image Credit: AFP

Al Mukalla: Heavy clashes between Yemen government forces and Iran-backed Al Houthis have broken out in Taiz, Jawj, Lahej and outside the capital as peace talks representatives failed to make breakthrough.

Army officers said on Saturday heavy artillery battles erupted between government forces and Al Houthi militants in Nehim district, the closest battlefield to Al Houthi-controlled Sana’a.

“We shelled Al Houthis military reinforcements in Nehim with canons,” a brigadier Anter Al Dharfani, a pro-government military officer told Gulf News.

Advancing from the neighbouring Marib province, Yemen government forces early this year recaptured strategic locations at Nehim district for the first time since the beginning of fighting against Al Houthis in March last year.

Al Dharfani said Al Houthis brought massive military backup from the capital to Nehim front.

“They are relentlessly trying to recapture Nehim from us. They cannot and we are ready to move deeper towards Sana’a if peace talks fail.”

Al Dharfani said three of his fighters and unknown number of Al Houthis were killed in the ongoing fighting. He rejected claims Saudi-led Arab coalition planes were active in the area.

But they confirmed the planes destroyed Al Houthi military vehicles in Al Sagia region of the northern province of Jawf.

Residents said the air strikes set ablaze two armed vehicles as government forces fought off an Al Houthi assault in the area.

Most of the province areas are under government control including the capital Hazem.

In southern Taiz, local activists said on Friday that a civilian and a militant were killed in the besieged city as government forces were trading gunfire with rebel fighters. Other fierce clashes were reported in the Karash region in the province of Lahj where government forces drove away Al Houthis who mounted attack to take control of new areas.

In Kuwait, where the warring factions are meeting to agree on a formula to end more than a year of a civil war, representatives failed to make any progress as Al Houthis insist on forming a consensual government before handing over cities. The government delegation continues to demand Al Houthis accept a UN Security Council resolution that would force them to hand over their arms to the internationally-recognised government, pull out from cities they are currently occupying and allow the government to return to Sana’a.

Before the talks kicked off on April 18 in Kuwait, Al Houthi spokesman Mohammad Abdul Salam said his group would abide by the resolution. But so far, his promises have not been fulfilled.