AL-MUKALLA, YEMEN: The central Yemeni province of Marib is safe from Houthi attacks, its governor told media on Sunday, amid reports that the Iranian-backed militia was making territorial gains in a neighboring district.
“We will never allow Houthis to pollute Marib,” Major Sultan Al-Aradah said, adding that thousands of tribesmen and troops were ready to resist Houthi approaches to the province’s borders.
He told reporters that Marib had become a safe haven for thousands of internally displaced people who had fled a Houthi crackdown in Sanaa and other rebel-held areas.
“Marib will remain committed to its political leadership, the government, the (Saudi-led) coalition and the people. It will be protected by its honorable men (who come) from the army, security services and the Yemenis who live here,” the governor said, welcoming the coalition’s support.
Marib has hosted thousands of Yemeni army troops and others from the Saudi-led coalition, in addition to thousands of people who have fled their homes in Houthi-controlled territories.
The province’s military bases have been used by the army and the coalition for training and arming thousands of soldiers who are battling Houthis in Nehim, Marib’s Serwah, Baydha and Taiz.
An escalation of fighting in Nehim, Sanaa, has forced dozens of displaced people into fleeing their camps outside Marib city and heading to Hadramout.
Residents in Hadramout’s Aber district told Arab News that families had started arriving.
State media said on Monday that Saudi-led coalition warplanes had carried out intense airstrikes targeting Houthi locations in Nehim and Jawf.
A Houthi leader, Abu Abdul Aziz, and a number of militants were killed on Sunday as government forces engaged in heavy fighting on the western and eastern edges of the southern city of Taiz.
Local army officers said the government’s escalation of fighting was aimed at easing the pressure on loyalists on Nehim’s battlegrounds.
“The battlefields are connected. What happens here in Taiz will definitely affect the other battlefields,” Abdul Basit Al-Baher, a Yemeni army spokesman in Taiz, told Arab News. “Fighting has not ceased since yesterday afternoon,” he said, adding that the dead Houthi leader was thought to be the second or third most important rebel military commander in Taiz.
A mortar shell fired by Houthis landed at a local market on the city’s western outskirts, killing three civilians and injuring several others.
“They have fired at least 13 mortars and Katyusha rockets at residential areas in Taiz over the last several hours,” Al-Baher said on Monday.
Houthis have focused their attacks on the western side of Taiz in an attempt to seize control of an important road that links the city with the southern port city of Aden.