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At least four Yemeni soldiers have been killed in fighting with Houthi rebels in northern Yemen, an army officer said on Sunday.

“Four soldiers were killed in an exchange of fire with Houthi rebels on Saturday night south of Harib, a community in Marib province,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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The soldiers were faced with a “surprise attack” by the Houthis, he added.

The account he gave was confirmed by medical sources in Marib, who also spoke of wounded in the ranks of the army.

The fighting ended a few hours after the Houthis’ initial attack on government positions in the Harib community, south of the city of Marib, capital of the province of the same name.

It was not known if or how many casualties the Shiite rebels suffered.

Clashes between the Houthis, or Ansarullah, considered close to Iran, and government forces, backed since 2015 by a Saudi-led military alliance, are relatively frequent in Marib, an oil-rich region and the last province under control. of the internationally recognized government in the northern part of the country.

The conflict in the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest country, which has been raging since 2014, has killed hundreds of thousands, displaced millions and left two-thirds of the population in desperate need of humanitarian aid just to survive, according to the UN, as the situation is dangerously close to mass starvation.

A UN-brokered ceasefire agreement that came into effect in April 2022 has greatly reduced hostilities. It expired in October after the parties failed to agree on its renewal, but since then fighting has been relatively subdued.