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Houthi Rebels in Yemen Suffer Their First Big Defeat

Reuters reports that Sunni militia units have driven Iran-backed Shiite Houthi insurgents from the southern Yemeni city of Dalea, dealing the Houthis their “first significant setback” in two months of hot civil war.

“Dalea had been a bastion of southern secessionists in Yemen before the Houthis took widespread control of the city in arch, after having seized the capital Sanaa in the north in September, toppling President Abd-Rabbu Mansour, and then thrust into the center and south of the Arabian Peninsula country,” Reuters reports. “After two months of fighting in which much of Dalea has been destroyed, Sunni fighters on Monday turned the tide by seizing a key military base and the main security directorate in the city, militia sources and local residents said. Twelve Sunni fighters and 40 Houthi rebels were killed, they said.”

The victory was apparently achieved with air support from the Saudi-led coalition currently bombing the Houthis, which provided both air strikes and supply drops.

The Houthis are still the most powerful faction in war-torn Yemen, and were able to claim a victory of their own against what Reuters describes as “Sunni tribal forces and Islamist militiamen” in the city of Taiz, where “shelling hit a fuel storage tank which set off an explosion, killing 10 people.”

Peace talks planned for this week in Geneva have apparently been postponed, due to both the intense combat roiling through these southern cities and the Houthis’ indifference to demands by the government-in-exile, backed by the U.N. Security Council, that the insurgents must withdraw from Yemen’s main cities.

Voice of America News reports that Saudi airstrikes continue, and may have destroyed the home of Ahmed Saleh – whose father, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, has been supporting the Houthi insurgency.  According to VOA, the United Nations estimates over 1,000 civilian casualties in Yemen to date.

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