Yemeni officials: Houthi rebels push into southern province

Yemeni officials: Clashes continue in southern Dhale province between Houthi rebels, pro-government forces

SANAA, Yemen -- Fighting continued Friday in Yemen's southern Dhale province between Iran-backed Houthi rebels and pro-government forces, Yemeni officials said.

Rebel incursions into Dhale, which had been under the control of forces loyal to Yemen's internationally recognized government, started in April, killing hundreds of fighters on both sides, officials said.

Yemen has been embroiled in a civil war pitting the Houthis against the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, since March 2015.

The officials said the Houthi rebel push into Dhale was in part aided by ongoing feuding between Hadi's fighters and those backed by the United Arab Emirates, which is part of the Saudi-led coalition.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.

Also on Friday, the head of the U.N. operation monitoring a cease-fire in Yemen's key port of Hodeida said in a statement that the Houthis have agreed to undertake the first redeployment from the ports in Hodeida, Salif and Ras-Issa.

Lt. Gen. Michael Lollesgaard said this marked the first practical step on the ground since the Hodeida Agreement was concluded, but stressed that the Houthis must commit to following through on the redeployment.