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ADEN, Yemen- Fighting continued between the two warring rivals in Yemen, despite the negotiations facilitated by the United Nations kicked off in Sweden on Thursday, local sources said.

An army officer told Xinhua that armed confrontations erupted between pro-government forces and the Houthi rebels, in the main entrance leading to the southern province of al-Dhalea.

More than 10 Houthi rebels and three soldiers loyal to the Saudi-backed government were killed, while several others were injured, the officer said.

In the the Red Sea coast city of Hodeidah, the Giants Brigades engaged in a gun-battle with the Houthi rebels, who were attempting to infiltrate into government-controlled areas in Hays district.

A military source said, Houthi gunmen didn't abide by the temporary cease-fire and continued to target government-controlled areas with mortar shells and rockets.

The state-run Saba news agency reported that shells fired by the Houthis landed on a shopping centre in Hodeidah, causing damages and panic among the residents.

Meanwhile, the Houthi-affiliated Masirah television network reported that, the group's fighters targeted gatherings of Saudi soldiers in southwestern Jizan region, with six domestically-manufactured missiles.

Local media outlets reported that senior leaders of the Houthi group threatened to fully close Sanaa airport, that is considered as a crucial humanitarian aid route and currently used for the delivery of urgent aid, if their demands are not met.

Yemen's Foreign Minister, Khaled Yamani who is leading the government negotiating team in Sweden demanded the Houthi rebels to completely withdraw from the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah and hand over their weapons.

Observers argued that the Houthis will not accept to give up their arms and preconditions indicate all parties still don't have goodwill to reach a peace deal.

The UN-sponsored peace talks, to build confidence between the Yemeni warring parties, kicked off Thursday, in Sweden, in the first step to resume the political process which ceased in 2016.

UN Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, expressed hope at the press conference that "serious" progress towards peace can be made here. "I think in the coming days we can find solutions to specific problems that can reduce the suffering," he said.

"We must act now before we lose control of Yemen. Let's not give up despite the challenges we may face. I am sure we will deliver the message of peace," Griffiths added.

The talks are expected to last for about a week, depending on the consultation's progress, according to Hanan Eldawadi, chief public information officer, at the UN Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen.

The Yemeni warring parties have held several rounds of peace talks since the conflict began, after the Houthis seized power in late 2014.

However, all talks collapsed and failed to achieve political agreement, leading to more violence.


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