Members of the Popular Resistance Committee secure a street during clashes with Houthi fighters in Yemen’s southwestern city of Taiz. Image Credit: Reuters

Riyadh: Yemen’s Vice-President Khalid Bahah, a politician respected across the country’s spectrum of factions, called on Al Houthi forces to stop advances on cities and heed a UN Security Council demand for an end to fighting, local media reported.

Bahah’s comments, made during a visit to the Yemeni embassy in Saudi Arabia on Monday, coincided with air strikes by a Saudi-led alliance on Iran-allied Al Houthi fighters, intensified fighting and reports the humanitarian situation was worsening.

“The brothers in Ansar Allah are called on to fear God with the Yemeni people and stop their war on the cities,” Yemeni news website www.voice-yemen.com reported, referring to the Al Houthi group by its official name.

“Everybody must realise that the UN Security Council resolution 2216 created a framework to end the conflict and that any initiative or dialogue would be for a mechanism to implement this resolution,” he added.

The Al Houthis have rejected the resolution, which imposes an arms embargo on the group and on supporters of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and demands the Ansar Allah group drop its weapons and quit cities, including the capital Sana’a, it captured since September, Other Yemeni news websites, including barakish.net, also carried the remarks.

Yemen had been in crisis since Al Houthis advanced on Sana’a in September last year and demanded to be involved in plans to restructure the political system and to fight corruption.

A coalition of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia, rattled by what they saw as expanding Iranian influence in the Arabian Peninsula, is trying to stop Al Houthi fighters and Saleh loyalists taking control of Yemen.

The fighting has killed more than 1,000 people in the five weeks since the air campaign began on March 26.

Saudi Arabia announced a halt to the air campaign last week to allow for political solution, but fighting has intensified again since Sunday.

Residents said that heavy clashes were reported overnight in the oil-producing Marib province east of the capital Sana’a and in the strategic city of Taiz in central Yemen and the southern city of Aden.

They said a large number of casualties was reported in Marib, where tribal fighters allied with President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi confronted Al Houthi militiamen and troops loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, but no exact figures were immediately available.

Bahah is popular among many of Yemen’s feuding parties, and his appointment earlier this month has created hopes for a negotiated solution to the conflict.