AL-MUKALLA: The governor of Yemen’s central province of Marib said that it would not surrender to the Iran-backed Houthis despite their relentless attacks.
“Marib will never be governed by Houthi militia,” said the governor, Maj. Sultan Al-Aradah, adding that thousands of army troops and allied tribesmen were fighting off a Houthi ground offensive in the oil and gas-rich province.
The governor’s renewed pledge to repel rebel attacks came shortly after a ballistic missile fired by the Houthis ripped through a mosque inside a military camp in the province, killing five soldiers and several others. The governor said that the Houthi missile and drone attacks on warship sites and residential areas in the province was a testament to Houthi heavy losses on the battlefield and their failure to make significant advances toward Marib.
“This is an indication of failure and bankruptcy and evidence of (their) inability to achieve their goals and plots against Marib,” the governor said, speaking to a reporter near the shattered glass, windows and walls of the targeted mosque.
Vice-President Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar strongly condemned the Houthi missile attack on the mosque during a telephone conversation with the governor of Marib, saying that the “bloody” Houthi movement violated morals and customs that venerated mosques and chapels.
Early this year, Houthis attacked a mosque with drones and missiles at a military camp in Marib, killing more than 110 soldiers and triggering heavy fighting that ended months of calm on the battlefield.
Despite international calls to cease their offensive on Marib, the Houthis have escalated their shelling of the city with drones and ballistics as their ground forces push to break through the Yemen army’s lines of defense. Yemeni army commanders say that more than 1,000 Houthis, including senior field commanders, have been killed in fighting on Marib’s border with Al-Bayda and in the province’s Serwah district.
Yemen’s Defense Ministry said on Friday that 614 Houthi militants have been killed and 1,254 wounded in heavy fighting with government forces or during Arab coalition airstrikes in the provinces of Jawf, Marib and Al-Bayda since early last week. Loyalists destroyed 59 military vehicles, seized 13 others and shot down five drones during the fighting.
Last week, British Ambassador to Yemen Michael Aron called on the Houthis to halt their military operations in Marib and heed local and international warnings that their continued push would undermine security and force thousands of people who took shelter in Marib after fleeing fighting in their home provinces to move again to safer places.
In the southern port of Aden, the new governor of Aden, Ahmed Lamlis, said on Saturday that military and security officers in the city were working on a security plan aimed at restoring peace and security, putting an end to informal housing and reopening public institutions.
“Let’s say enough to infighting. We are all brothers and are in one court,” the governor said at a press conference in Aden, shortly after resuming his duties from his office.