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Hadi allies capture Yemen island ahead of week-long ceasefire Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Hadi allies capture Yemen island ahead of week-long ceasefire

File Photo: Fighting has intensified across Yemen ahead of UN-brokered peace talks [Getty]

Date of publication: 15 December, 2015

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Government-aligned forces have captured Zuqar island near the strategically important Bab al-Mandeb Strait, as fighting intensified across Yemen ahead of UN-brokered peace talks.
Pro-government forces backed by Saudi-led air raids have captured an island in the Red Sea from Houthi rebels, just hours before a week-long ceasefire came into effect, it emerged on Tuesday.

Troops allied to President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi seized Zuqar island - just before delegations from Yemen's warring factions convened for peace talks in northern Switzerland.

On Monday, Saudi coalition aircraft bombed rebel positions on the island, causing a fire to break out at one of the sites, according to an al-Araby al-Jadeed Yemen correspondent.

     
      Al-Hanish al-Kabir island, to the south
of Zuqar, was captured last week
Clashes also took place on Tuesday after the truce began in the flashpoint city of Taiz with mortar rounds hitting pro-government forces south of the city.

Zuqar Island lies close to the Bab al-Mandab Strait, one of the busiest routes for oil and cargo shipping in the world.

Last week pro-government forces captured the smaller al-Hanish al-Kabir, to the south of Zuqar Island.

Bab al-Mandab has been described as one of the "global oil choke points", linking Asia and Europe, which has made it a critically important theatre of conflict in the Yemen war.

Past efforts to end the conflict between the internationally recognised government led by Hadi and the Houthi rebels have failed.

The two sides initially agreed to halt fire at midnight on Monday, but the coalition delayed the truce until to midday Tuesday.

Coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed al-Assiri has confirmed that the truce had taken effect. The rebel forces have yet to say if they will abide by the ceasefire.

On Monday, a senior Saudi military commander and an Emirati colonel were killed in what reports say a missile attack that targeted an area near Bab al-Mandab in Yemen.

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