Yemen Shiite rebels take villages from rivals

AP News
Posted: Feb 02, 2014 10:22 AM

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Shiite rebels have defeated one of Yemen's strongest tribes after weeks of fighting between the two groups over territory in the northwest part of the country, spokesmen for both sides said Sunday.

Mohammed Abdel Salaam, a representative of the Hawthi rebels, said that his group was in complete control of the contested area in Amran province

In recent days, at least 150 militants have died in battles over two villages, Houth and Khamra. A government-backed cease-fire failed to stop the fighting. Officials said tribesman from the Hawthis' rivals, the Hashid, had asked for reinforcements from Sunni ultraconservatives.

Hawthi leaders announced the victory early Sunday, after reinforcements arrived from the Hawthi-controlled region of Saada on Saturday.

Gameel al-Hashidi, a leader of the Hashid, confirmed that the area, a traditional stronghold of his tribe, had been taken over by the Hawthis. Tribe members also said that the house of a prominent sheik there had been burned.

Shiite Yemenis began a rebellion nearly a decade ago in the northern city of Saada, complaining of marginalization. Thousands were killed on both sides. The rebels are often referred to as Hawthis after their spiritual leader, cleric Hussein Badr Eddin al-Hawthi, who led the 2004 uprising and was killed later that year.

The former rebels are taking part in the country's six-month National Dialogue, which aims at getting all Yemen's rival groups, political parties, religious and tribal leaders together to discuss a new political system for the country before drafting a constitution.