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Dozens killed in clashes and Saudi air strikes across Saada in Yemen

Nine civilians killed in Saudi-led air strikes in the Houthi controlled area of Saada
Boys play on a road after it was hit by air strikes in the northwestern province of Saada (REUTERS/Naif Rahma)

Clashes in the Yemeni rebel heartland of Saada province have killed 40 rebel fighters, Saudi media said on Wednesday, while the rebels reported nine civilians among 22 dead in Saudi-led air strikes.

The rebels were killed in clashes over the past 24 hours with a pro-government alliance backed by Saudi Arabia, which controls several pockets of the province along the Saudi border, the kingdom's state-run Al-Ekhbariya television reported.

An official of the province's health department said four children were among the nine civilians killed in air strikes over the past 24 hours.

The Houthi-backed Al-Masirah television said a single strike on the province on Tuesday night killed nine people, four of them civilians.

A spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition supporting the government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The uptick in fighting came as Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir held talks on the conflicts in Yemen and Syria with his British, US and United Arab Emirates counterparts in Paris on Tuesday.

"There can be no military solution to either conflict, only peaceful and carefully negotiated political solutions will truly end the suffering," said British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who organised the meeting.

Saudi Arabia and its allies have come under mounting international pressure over the humanitarian impact of their nearly three-year military intervention.

Despite the coalition's superior firepower, the rebels remain in control of the capital Sanaa and much of the northern highlands and the Red Sea coast.

Germany halts arms sales to Saudi 

On Friday, the German government announced plans to halt all arms exports to countries involved in the war in Yemen since 2015. 

The move coincided with Norway's decision earlier this month to suspend all arms sales to the UAE over its involvement in the ongoing war in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia is a major buyer of German weapons and expected to be adversely impacted by the announcement. 

The German government was forced to disclose the numbers after several members of parliament from the opposition Left Party demanded the information.

The disclosure, however, did not give full details on the type of weapons exported, but DW notes that a significant proportion of the sales to Saudi Arabia is expected to include four patrol boats and 110 military trucks.

Since 2015, a Saudi-led coalition has conducted an aerial bombing campaign over Yemen, aimed at countering the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels and supporting the government of President Abd Mansour Hadi.

More than 9,200 people have been killed in Yemen since March 2015, when the Saudi-led military coalition intervened in the war.

Another 2,200 Yemenis have died of cholera amid deteriorating hygiene and sanitation conditions, the World Health Organisation says.

Over the past year, the United Nations' efforts to address what it has described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis have been hampered by a crippling blockade of rebel-held ports by the Saudi-led coalition.

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