November 3–9: Fighting intensifies on multiple fronts as Geneva talks approach

With new peace talks fast approaching, the ground fighting continues to escalate rapidly on several fronts across Yemen and across the border with Saudi Arabia, while the Saudi-led coalition’s aircraft continue to provide local anti-Houthi fighters with aerial support and weapons. Ground fighting has been swiftly intensifying in or around six Yemeni cities since early last week, while the new round of UN-sponsored talks aiming to end the conflict in Yemen is just few days away. The new peace-talks session is expected to take place in Geneva on November 15. On Sunday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon flew to Riyadh to reinforce the push for a peaceful political settlement among the warring parties. Having finalized the initial negations ahead of the upcoming talks in Geneva, delegates from the Houthi Movement and the General People’s Congress party (GPC) returned from Muscat on Friday to brief their leadership in the Yemeni capital, Sanʻa. The exiled government in Riyadh has already assigned five representatives for the new Geneva talks. While the UN special envoy for Yemen appeared to be optimistic, several observers believe the talks are doomed to fail amid the escalated conflict on the ground.

In the central city of Taʻiz, clashes are taking place in downtown and intensifying in the eastern frontline, with both sides using heavy artillery and tanks. More than a dozen pro-Houthi/Saleh forces have been killed and wounded in an ambush; civilians have also reportedly been killed. While the pro-Houthi/Saleh forces surround the city from three sides, coalition airstrikes continue to target those forces. More reinforcement troops from the coalition, along with armored vehicles, have reached Taʻiz during the past week.

Near the Red Sea port of Mokha, pro-Houthi/Saleh forces claimed to hit a coalition warship, which they say is the fourth to be bombed.

In Ibb governorate, pro-Houthi/Saleh forces have taken control of Damt district near Dhaliʻ city, after fierce clashes with local resistance fighters left tens of dead on both sides. Although the coalition’s aircraft provided the resistance fighters with aerial support and weapons, the pro-Houthi/Saleh forces still control large parts of the district.

In Marib governorate, clashes erupted on new frontlines in the western districts amid airstrikes and artillery barrages. The local tribal fighters along with coalition forces are poised to capture al-Wakifah valley, some four kilometers outside the western district of Sirwah.

In the southern governorate of Lahj, near Aden city, fighting has escalated in what was seen as an attempt by pro-Houthi/Saleh forces to recapture Aden. On the other hand, 200 Sudanese and Gulf troops were reportedly seen leaving Aden, heading toward al-Anad airbase, where at least 400 coalition forces have been stationed.

Meanwhile, another Tropical Cyclone, Megh, battered Suqutra Island on Sunday, just days after Cyclone Chapala left at least three people dead and displaced hundreds from their homes on the island. One woman was reportedly killed while four other people were injured by the second storm.