The Yemeni army has seized Iranian-made weapons used by Shiite rebels who are locked in fighting with government forces in the north of the country, a security official said on Saturday.
"The troops... have discovered six storehouses for weapons that belong to the Huthi rebels and contain some Iranian-made weapons, including machine guns, short-range rockets and ammunition," the official said.
The official said the weapons were found as the troops advanced on rebel positions in areas near the rugged mountainous city of Saada, where the army launched an offensive called Operation Scorched Earth 12 days ago against the rebels.
Last week, Information Minister Ahmed al-Lawzi indirectly accused Iran of supporting the Zaidi Shiite rebels, who are also known as Huthis, in the fighting.
Witnesses reported that fierce battles were raging in the troubled north as the army stepped up its offensive, killing or wounding dozens of people.
The rebels, who accuse government forces of having killed dozens of civilians, said in a statement that they captured 80 soldiers, while locals said two Huthi leaders were killed in ferocious clashes on Friday night.
The troops have discovered six storehouses for weapons that belong to the Huthi rebels and contain some Iranian-made weapons
Yemeni security official
Meanwhile, the fighting has forced more than 100,000 people in Yemen, many of them children, to flee their homes, a U.N. agency said.
The children's agency UNICEF and other U.N. aid bodies expressed serious concern about what they called a deteriorating situation in the north of the country and described conditions as critical in some areas.
The refugee agency UNHCR said in Geneva it was appealing for a ceasefire to allow civilians to escape the fighting and enable aid workers to resume interrupted deliveries of humanitarian goods to the conflict zone.
The conflict with the Houthi rebels in mostly Sunni Muslim Yemen has flared intermittently since 2004. Authorities accuse the rebels of trying to expand their influence, but the insurgents say they are defending their villages against government oppression.