Dubai, Jan 24 (AFP) Clashes in the Yemeni rebel heartland of Saada province have killed 40 rebel fighters, Saudi media said today, while the rebels reported nine civilians among 22 dead in Saudi-led air strikes.

The rebels were killed in clashes over the past 24 hours with a pro-government alliance backed by Saudi Arabia, which controls several pockets of the province along the Saudi border, the kingdom’s state-run Al-Ekhbariya television reported.

An official of the province’s rebel-run health department said four children were among the nine civilians killed in air strikes over the past 24 hours.

The rebels’ Al-Masirah television said a single strike on the province on Tuesday night killed nine people, four of them civilians.

A spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition supporting the government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The uptick in fighting came as Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir held talks on the conflicts in Yemen and Syria with his British, US and United Arab Emirates counterparts in Paris yesterday.

“There can be no military solution to either conflict, only peaceful and carefully negotiated political solutions will truly end the suffering,” said British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who organised the meeting.

Saudi Arabia and its allies have come under mounting international pressure over the humanitarian impact of their nearly three-year military intervention.

Despite the coalition’s superior firepower, the rebels remain in control of the capital Sanaa and much of the northern highlands and Red Sea coast.

More than 9,200 people have been killed in Yemen since the intervention began, most of them civilians, according to World Health Organization figures.

More than three-quarters of Yemen’s 29 million population are in need of humanitarian aid, with some 8.4 million at risk of famine, the UN humanitarian affairs office has said.

The Saudi-led coalition this week pledged USD 1.5 billion in new aid for Yemen after the United Nations launched a record appeal to address what it says is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. (AFP)

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.