Yemen expands offensive against Shi'ite rebels

Yemen widened a military offensive against Shi'ite rebels in the country's north on Saturday, blasting the fighters' positions with artillery and airstrikes, a local government official said. The fighting took place in an area closer to the capital city, San'a, than other battles over the past several days and killed 17 rebels and six government troops, said the official in Amran province. The government began the offensive Tuesday with bombing raids on several districts of the northern Saada province, bordering Saudi Arabia, after rebels claimed they had wrested more control of the area from government troops. The rebellion began in 2004 and is led by Shi'ite militants who say the government is corrupt and too closely allied with the West.