Smoke and fire billow during a controlled explosion by Yemeni experts to destroy explosives and mines laid by Al Houthis, on April 5, 2016. Image Credit: AFP

Al Mukalla: Heavy fighting broke out between government forces and Al Houthis in many battlefields in Yemen hours before a ceasefire planned to take effect on Sunday.

Army commanders and tribal leaders loyal to the government of president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi told Gulf News on Saturday that the rebel fighters stepped up their military operations in Marib, Jawf, Taiz, Shabwa and Lahj apparently to regain control of new areas before the halt of fighting.

The officials said that the rebels have used many similar proposed truce to regroup and get military reinforcements. Ali Al Ghoules, a spokesperson for the governor of Marib, told Gulf News that the continuing amassing of forces and military equipment inside Al Houthi-controlled areas in the province does not indicate that the rebels would commit to the ceasefire.

“According to intelligence information with 3rd Military Region, Al Houthis have brought Katyusha rockets, fighters from Khawlan and Bani Hushesh and a highly trained regiment of fighters from Saada,” Al Ghoules said.

“For the last 24 hours, Al Houthis have mounted eight attacks on government-controlled areas in Serwah and 12 attacks on Al Makhdara,” he said.

Al Ghoules said that the rebels have exploited many similar ceasefires before peace talks in Geneva last year to send more military support to their exhausted fighters. “We have previous experience with Al Houthis during Geneva 1 and Geneva 2. They took control of new regions in Marib immediately after the collapse of these two round of peace talks.”

In late March, almost a year after the beginning of military campaign against Al Houthis by the Saudi-led coalition, the UN envoy to Yemen, Esmail Ould Shaikh Ahmad, announced that the internationally-supported government and Al Houthis agreed to put into effect a ceasefire at midnight on April 10, a week before a new round of peace talks Kuwait.