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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 October 2018

Rival Houthi factions battle for leadership in Yemen

Several dozens fighters were killed in the fighting: army spokesman

Supporters of Houthi rebels hold weapons during a gathering to mobilise more tribal fighters into the intensifying battlefront of Hodeidah, in Sanaa, Yemen. EPA
Supporters of Houthi rebels hold weapons during a gathering to mobilise more tribal fighters into the intensifying battlefront of Hodeidah, in Sanaa, Yemen. EPA

A quarrel over leadership led to fighting between rival Houthi factions in northwest Yemen on Saturday, reportedly leaving several dozen fighters dead.

The clashes continued into Sunday in the Magash district of Sada city, a stronghold of the rebel group which has controlled large parts of Yemen since 2014, according to a spokesman in the media centre of the Yemeni army in Sada governorate, where some pockets have been retaken by pro-government forces.

According to the spokesman, a Houthi religious figure named AbdulAdheem Al Houthi had challenged the movement’s leader Abdulmalik Al Houthi for leadership of the movement.

In return, supporters of the Houthi leader attacked homes Al Humaidan, an area affiliated with the religious leader AbdulAdheem.

The spokesman claimed dozens were also wounded in the fighting. Schisms within the Houthi movement have reportedly led to fighting in the past.

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Separately, a high-ranking Houthi leader was killed in an airstrike on Sunday near Hodeidah, according to a member of the pro-government Giants brigades of the South Yemen Movement, which are active in the area.

An Arab coalition jet on Saturday targeted Hussein Koushaima, said to be a Houthi mines expert, alongside 25 of his men near the Kilo 16 area east of the city.

The Arab coalition says retaking Hodeidah is critical to ending a Houthi stranglehold over the critical port city. Fighting had paused while peace talks in Geneva were pursued but after the Houthi delegation failed to arrive, the operation resumed last month.

Koushaima was a divisional level leader, the source said, previously responsible for training elite Houthi units in Saida. He was earlier believed to have received training in Lebanon in manufacturing and laying landmines and improvised explosives.

Photos shared by pro-Houthi social media and news accounts showed Koushaima’s funeral in Sada on Sunday.