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Fresh clashes in Yemen kill 20, say military officials – American held in Yemen freed, evacuated to Oman

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ADEN, Nov 6, (Agencies): Fresh clashes in two different parts of Yemen on Sunday killed 14 pro-Iran rebels and six fighters loyal to the internationally recognised government, military officials said. Among them was loyalist General Yehia al-Khayati who died at a Saudi hospital where he was taken after being wounded in clashes in Midi, a northwestern town close to the Saudi border and the Red Sea coast, an official told AFP. Two rebel fighters were also killed in those clashes, the source said. Further south on the outskirts of the oil-rich Usailan district of Shabwa province, rebel forces attacked loyalist positions sparking clashes that killed 12 insurgents and five pro-government soldiers, another military source said. Yemen has been rocked by war since the Houthi rebels and their allies expanded from their northern historic strongholds seizing the capital Sanaa and other parts of the country.

The conflict escalated when Saudi Arabia formed a coalition of Arab states that have been bombing rebel positions since March 2015 in support of Yemen’s government. Nearly 7,000 people have been killed in the war – more than half of them civilians – while another three million are displaced amid a spread of malnutrition and disease.

The United Nations’ attempts to convince the warring parties to agree on a ceasefire and return to peace talks have so far failed. The latest fighting comes as UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed was visiting Sanaa to discuss a roadmap for peace that has been rejected by Gulfbacked President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who has fled to Riyadh. Meanwhile, a human rights group in Yemen says the fighting in the southern city of Taiz amounts to war crimes.

Mwatana Organization for Human Rights says in a report Sunday that violations by the warring parties there have killed or wounded hundreds of civilians. The fighting over Taiz, Yemen’s third largest city, is part of an ongoing civil war pitting the Saudi-backed government against Shiite Houthi rebels and security forces loyal to a former president. A Saudi-led coalition has been bombing the Houthis and their allies since March 2015. The Houthis have besieged Taiz since March. Taiz residents say more than 1,600 civilians have been killed. The rights group’s head, Radhya al- Mutawakel, said the violations in Taiz “amount to war crimes.”

An American citizen held in Yemen was released on Sunday and evacuated from rebel-controlled Sanaa to Muscat along with Yemenis wounded in the country’s conflict, the sultanate’s foreign ministry said. The unidentified man was transported onboard an Omani military aircraft after his release was secured “following a request by the US government (to Oman) to continue helping in (releasing) its citizens held in Yemen”, the ministry said in a statement carried by the state news agency ONA.

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