SANAA (Reuters) - Yemeni forces killed 17 Shi’ite rebels and captured four in fighting late on Wednesday in the north of the country, official sources said.
Security forces pushed out Houthi rebels from a number of new positions in the mountainous province of Saada, the sources said.
They denied a rebel claim on Wednesday that a family had been killed in the Talh region when their house was hit by rockets.
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said on Wednesday the rebels, often referred to as “Houthis” after the name of their tribal leader, were receiving funding from groups in Iran as well as from Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.[ID:nL916436]
Last month fresh fighting erupted between Zaydi Shi’ite Muslims in the Saada region and government forces. The conflict first broke out in 2004.
The rebels, loyal to leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, accuse Saudi Arabia, whose Wahhabi brand of Islam regards Shi’ites as heretics, of backing the government, while the government sees an Iranian hand behind the rebels.
Yemen, one of the poorest Arab countries, has been battling the rebellion in the north as well as a wave of al Qaeda attacks and rising secessionist sentiment in the south.
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