Dubai: Senior US diplomats are holding talks in the Gulf region in a renewed push for a ceasefire in Yemen as fierce ground battles spread and the Iran-aligned Al Houthi militant group resumed cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia after a brief lull over Eid Al Adha holidays.
US special envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday following a visit by Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman to Oman, amid stalled efforts for a breakthrough in ending more than six years of war.
The Saudi-led coalition that backs Yemen’s recognised government and Al Houthis have been at odds over a United Nations-led proposal for a nationwide truce and the lifting of a coalition blockade to ease a dire humanitarian crisis.
Meanwhile, battles are raging in Yemen’s gas-rich Marib region, the government’s last northern stronghold, and in Al Bayda governorate. The coalition said late on Tuesday it destroyed four Al Houthi ballistic missiles and two drones launched towards Jizan in southern Saudi Arabia.
Fighting has spread to Al Bayda as Al Houthi militia try to advance towards the southern oil-producing Shabwa region, local and military sources said. Coalition air strikes have so far repelled Al Houthi advances.
Lenderking will discuss “growing consequences” of the Marib offensive that is triggering instability elsewhere and the “urgent need” for Riyadh and the Saudi-backed government to facilitate fuel imports to northern Yemen, the State Department said.
The Houthi militants have insisted sea and air restrictions on areas they control be removed before any ceasefire talks, while the coalition wants a simultaneous deal.