Sanaa, Apr 12 (IANS): Despite ongoing talks between Saudi Arabia and the Houthi militia in Yemen's capital Sanaa to discuss a permanent solution to the years-long civil war, sporadic fightings have erupted in the war-torn nation's Marib province.
The oil-rich province on Tuesday witnessed the sporadic clashes and heavy artillery shellings between government forces and the Houthi militia along the Alkasarah and Raghwan frontlines, raising concerns about the outlook of the peace process, a government official told Xinhua news agency.
The ongoing talks between the Houthi militia and Saudi Arabia, the primary backer of Yemen's internationally recognized government, signaled a potential turning point in the long-standing conflict that has left the country devastated.
A new hope for reaching a peaceful resolution to the conflict was raised by the Saudi-Houthi talks, which focused on renewing the ceasefire, reopening the Sanaa airport and lifting restrictions on the Red Sea port to facilitate humanitarian aid for millions of citizens facing food insecurity and inadequate healthcare.
However, the renewed clashes in Marib and other regions highlight the challenges in implementing a lasting ceasefire and addressing the deep-rooted issues that have fuelled the civil war in Yemen.
The situation in Marib, a strategic city in northern Yemen, is particularly tense, as it has been the scene of heavy fightings between the government forces and the Houthis in recent months.
Despite the setbacks, the recent talks still represent a glimmer of hope for ending the protracted military conflict.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Yemeni government announced it is ready for the exchange of prisoners with the Houthis, set to begin on Thursday.
The process will be carried out in three phases over three days, and the first exchange will involve 72 prisoners, according to Majed Fadael, a member of the government negotiating delegation.
The number of peace initiatives has increased, particularly after Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations in rapprochement talks hosted by China in early March.
Over the weekend, Saudi and Omani delegations held talks with the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Sanaa to restore peace in the war-torn country, which was praised by the UN as "a welcome step towards the de-escalation of tensions".
Yemen has been embroiled in the civil war after the Houthi militia took control of several northern cities and ousted the Saudi-backed government from Sanaa in 2014.
The conflict has resulted in a staggering number of casualties and pushed Yemen to the brink of a humanitarian crisis, including widespread famine.