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UNITED NATIONS The U.N. Security Council called Thursday for an immediate end to a significant'' escalation in fighting in Yemen between Houthi Shiite rebels and the Saudiled military coalition supporting the government.

Member nations on the U.N.'s most powerful body underlined their disappointment'' at the return to violence in a statement, saying it threatens to undermine progress made during the recent period of deescalation in Yemen.''

The council expressed hope that a renewed deescalation would create space for the Yemeni parties to move towards comprehensive and inclusive U.N.led negotiations urgently, on the security and political arrangements necessary to end the conflict and move towards a peaceful transition.''

The council statement followed a briefing Tuesday by the U.N. special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths. He urged a halt to the recent alarming military escalation'' in fighting before it is too late.''

Less than two weeks ago, Griffiths had reported to the council on a major reduction in military operations and other initiatives. He expressed hope then that this would lead to talks between the government and Iranianbacked Houthis on ending the fiveyear conflict in the Arab world's poorest nation.

The U.S.backed Arab coalition battling to restore Yemen's internationally recognized government stepped up airstrikes in recent days on rebel targets northeast of the capital, Sanaa, while the Houthis shelled governmentheld areas.

Source: Voice of America

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