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Houthi conflict looms in Yemen

SANAA, Yemen, July 28 (UPI) -- A fresh round of clashes between government troops and Houthi rebels is imminent as a February cease-fire collapses, Yemeni analysts say.

Yemeni forces in August 2009 launched a scorched-earth campaign against Houthi rebels in the north of the country. The conflict threatened to spill over the border to Saudi Arabia before the Yemeni government reached a cease-fire agreement with the rebel group in February.

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Houthi rebels this week captured hundreds of army soldiers in the north of the country. Yahya al-Jaradi, a chief negotiator in the conflict, told the United Nations' humanitarian news agency IRIN that Houthis have no interest in peace.

"They don't want peace," he said. "They are forcing civilians to leave their homes (and) they have started digging in again in mountain-top positions."

Jaradi said rebel forces have taken advantage of the cease-fire by stockpiling weapons and reinforcing their northern positions.

A Yemeni political analyst speaking to IRIN on condition of anonymity said Yemen should be braced for another round of fighting with Houthi rebel forces.

"Alarm bells are ringing," he said. "We have witnessed too many violations and too much violence. A seventh round of clashes is looming."

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