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Yemen's Hadi vows to liberate Sanaa from Iran-backed Houthis

ADEN, Yemen, July 11 -- Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi vowed Sunday to liberate the country's capital Sanaa from the control of the Iran-backed Houthi rebels with a Saudi-backed military offensive.

In a surprising move, Hadi arrived in northern Marib province about 170km east of Sanaa along with his vice-president General Ali Muhsen and other ministers as pro-government forces creep into several Houthi-controlled provinces.

Hadi said during a meeting with high-ranking military commanders and government officials in Marib that "we will foil any attempt to create a Persian state in Yemen."

He also declared in his first visit to the headquarters of Saudi-backed government forces that "we will be in the capital Sanaa soon."

Media outlets affiliated with the Saudi state announced that the purpose of Hadi's visit to Marib is to supervise the all-out military operation to recapture the capital Sanaa and liberate other provinces from the control of Houthi rebels.

An army officer said that heavy military reinforcements backed by dozens of Saudi-led armored vehicles arrived at the same time with Hadi's arrival in Marib.

A source close to Hadi confirmed to Xinhua that "the President asked the government delegation to boycott the UN-facilitated peace talks in Kuwait if partnership with Houthis will be imposed on us."

According to the source President Hadi strongly rejected the latest UN vision that suggested to form a coalition government with Houthis and considered it as "attempts to legitimize the coup. "

The UN-facilitated peace negotiations aimed at ending Yemen's civil war were officially halted late last month and are scheduled to resume on Friday in Kuwait after a two-week break.

On June 29, the Special UN Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh said "talks will embark on a new phase in the next weeks. Delegations will meet their leaderships in coming two weeks and will return to Kuwait on 15 July."

Ould Cheikh added that "delegations must return with practical steps based on the recommendations of the previous discussions they had in Kuwait."

Yemeni political observers said that the UN-brokered peace talks that kicked off in Kuwait City on April 11 failed to reach any tangible breakthroughs after two months of negotiations.

Delegates of the government strongly insist that they represent Yemen's sole legitimate governing authority, and call for the full implementation of last year's UN Security Council Resolution 2216.

The resolution orders Houthi militias to withdraw from Sanaa and all other cities occupied earlier, hand back weapons and release political prisoners before forming new sharing transitional government.

However, the Houthis and their allies, for their part, say that they represent the country's de facto rulers and urged to form a new transitional government before discussing withdrawal from cities and the other topics.

The Houthi top leaders have also reaffirmed their demand for a consensus president to lead the transition in any peace deal, but government delegates have firmly rejected and insist on implementation of the UN resolution first.

The civil war has drawn in Saudi-led coalition on March 2015, in response to Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's call to restore his internationally recognized government to the capital, Sanaa.

The civil war has killed more than 6,000 people, half of them civilians, injured more 35,000 others, and displaced over two millions, according to humanitarian aid agencies.



Yemen's conflict began after 2011 massive popular protests that demanded end to the 33-year rule of then President Ali Abdullah Saleh. (PNA/Xinhua)
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