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Houthis launch missile attack hours after agreeing to peace talks

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The Arab coalition intercepted four ballistic missiles launched by the Iran-backed Houthi group on the western city of Marib in Yemen, a representative for the government's armed forces confirmed on Sunday.

"Tremendous explosions repeated four times between nine and 10pm last night," Yaqoob Al Barakani told The National. "They were Houthi ballistic missiles fired from rural areas in northern Sanaa to target military bases including the Sahen Al Jen base and the headquarter of the 3rd military base in Marib, but they were all intercepted."

The attack on residential areas on Saturday came hours after Yemen's warring parties agreed to attend peace talks in Sweden to discuss the country's continuing conflict and deteriorating humanitarian situation. The Saudi-backed government and the Houthi rebels have shown a "renewed commitment" to work on a political solution to end a war that has driven millions to the brink of famine, UN envoy Martin Griffiths told the Security Council on Friday.

But soon after in Yemen, a series of blasts tore through the night.

"The explosions were really huge, it was the first time I heard such explosions," said Mr Al Barakani, lamenting that the intensity of the attack had spread fear among the civilian population. "They weren't expecting the Houthis would keep practising such criminal actions while the international community is talking about a ceasefire and peace negotiations."

According to Col Abulmajeed Al Azraki, the Houthi group believes the protraction of violence and war will help them stay in power in the north. "They are a group based on terror and blood, they believe that fighting is the only factor that prolongs their control over the northern provinces and any solution based on peace will melt their power and put an end to them forever."

On Wednesday the Iran-backed rebels fired a ballistic missile at Hodeidah port, only hours after pro-government forces announced a halt in an offensive on the city.

Marib resident and activist Mubarak Al Tamimi said the escalation of violence in his city and Hodeidah is further proof of the Houthi group's unwillingness to seek a peaceful end to the conflict.
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