Houthis allow UN delegation into besieged Yemeni city

Houthi militia in Yemen

The Shia Houthi group has allowed a UN delegation into Yemen’s central city of Taiz, which has remained under siege by the militant group since last week.

“The UN delegation was allowed into the city after having initially been barred from entry by the Houthis,” Abdullah al-Sharabi, a pro-government army commander, told news agencies.

The UN delegation is expected to look into Houthi accusations that pro-government forces had committed war crimes against Houthi supporters in the town of Al-Sarari, a Houthi stronghold southeast of Taiz.

Al-Sarari was captured by Saudi-backed government forces last month.

The Houthis have accused government troops of forcibly displacing their supporters from their homes in the town.

Last week, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, James McGoldrick, called for a “humanitarian ceasefire” in Taiz amid a recent escalation in fighting between government forces and the Houthis.

Yemen has been racked by chaos since late 2014, when the Houthis and their allies overran capital Sanaa and other parts of the country, forcing President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and his Saudi-backed government to temporarily flee to Riyadh.

In March of last year, Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies launched a massive military campaign aimed at reversing Houthi gains in Yemen and restoring Hadi’s embattled government.

Backed by Saudi-led airstrikes, pro-Hadi forces have since managed to reclaim large swathes of the country’s south — including provisional capital Aden — but have failed to retake Sanaa and other strategic areas.