Tribesmen loyal to Houthi rebels ride on a pickup truck during a gathering aimed at mobilizing more fighters into battlefronts in several Yemeni cities, in Sanaa, Yemen. Image Credit: AP

Aden: Yemeni government forces on Saturday were staging a fierce counterattack after clashes in several areas across Yemen on Friday killed 22 Al Houthi militants and 11 members of pro-government forces, military officials said.

Fierce battles erupted in the northern Jawf province when Iran-backed Al Houthi militants attacked Yemni government forces in Al Motoon district, triggering a counter attack by government forces backed by warplanes from the Saudi-led Arab coalition, a military official said.

The fighting left 13 Al Houthi militants dead, while eight loyalists were killed by mistake in an air strike that missed its target, the official added.

Further south, three Al Houthi militants were killed in clashes in Bayhan, Shabwa province, another military official said.

And in the southwestern flashpoint city of Taiz, six Al Houthi militants and three loyalists were killed in renewed fighting when Al Houthi militants attacked government troops on the southwestern outskirts of the city, a military official said.

Clashes have continued despite a UN-brokered ceasefire that entered into effect on April 11 and paved the way for peace talks in Kuwait.

On Thursday, government representatives reiterated its demand for a full withdrawal of Al Houthi militants from territory seized since 2014.

On Wednesday, the rebel delegation said it would not sign up to any deal on military and security issues until there was agreement on a consensus president and a national unity government to oversee the transition.

The peace road map put forward by UN envoy Esmail Ould Shaikh Ahmad proposed the formation of a unity government in tandem with the withdrawal and disarmament of Al Houthi militants, although he acknowledged major differences between the two sides’ timetables.

Despite a 15-month Saudi-led military intervention in support of the government of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, Al Houthi militants and their allies remain in control of swathes of territory they have overran since 2014, including the capital Sana’a.

More than 6,400 people have been killed since the intervention began, the majority of them civilians, and there has been growing international pressure for an end to the conflict.