AL-MUKALLA: The UN Yemen envoy on Tuesday demanded Iran-backed Houthis halt their large-scale offensive on the central city of Marib, saying the attack threatened diplomatic efforts to bring peace to the country.
Martin Griffiths tweeted that he was “extremely concerned about the resumption of hostilities in Marib, especially at a time of renewed diplomatic momentum to end the war and resume the political process.”
The envoy added that “a negotiated political settlement that meets the aspirations of the Yemeni people is the only sustainable solution to end this conflict.”
Griffiths’ comments came as the Yemeni army announced it had killed or captured dozens of rebels.
The envoy’s criticism of the Houthis follows a two-day visit to Iran where he discussed the Yemen conflict with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and leading officials.
The two men discussed the urgent need for a nationwide cease-fire, the opening of Sanaa airport and the easing of restrictions on Hodeidah ports, Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN chief, said in New York on Monday.
The Yemeni army on Tuesday said it had killed and captured dozens of the Houthis while repelling attacks on Marib.
Houthi rebels have resumed their push to recapture the oil and gas-rich city that hosts thousands of troops and key Arab coalition camps as well as thousands of people who have fled fighting in the country.
“We have pushed back their attacks and incursions in Murad, Al-Makhdara, Helan, Serwah and Al-Mashja’a,” army spokesman Brig. Gen. Abdu Abdullah Majili told Arab News by telephone on Tuesday.
Troops and allied tribesmen, backed by air support from Arab coalition warplanes, halted Houthi advances, and seized weapons and ammunition abandoned by the rebels, he said.
“We managed to thwart their attacks and launch counterattacks thanks to cohesion between the national army and resistance fighters, and military support from the Arab coalition,” Majili said.
Sultan Al-Arada, governor of Marib, vowed to defeat the Houthis, saying the rebels have never taken calls for peace seriously.
In neighboring Jouf, fierce fighting broke out on Monday and Tuesday as the Houthis launched a simultaneous attack on government forces in Dahedha and other contested areas, local officials said.
In Sanaa, Houthi leaders called on supporters to donate funds to support the attacks on Marib, reiterating the rebels’ determination to seize the city despite international calls to halt the offensive.
Mohammed Al-Bukhaiti, a Houthi official, urged followers to head to local banks, post offices and mosques to give money to help the offensive, promising an “imminent victory” that would bring the city of Marib under their control.
Separately, a Houthi-controlled court on Tuesday sentenced 11 pro-government MPs to death and ordered the confiscation of their properties inside and outside Yemen after they took part in a parliamentary session in the city of Seiyun in April 2019, local media said.
The condemned MPs include oil, banking and telecom businessman Hamed Abdullah Al-Amer, and Insaf Mayo, chairman of the Arab Parliament Economic Commission.
The Houthis previously have convicted hundreds of army generals, security officers, politicians, human rights activists and journalists for supporting the internationally recognized government and the Arab coalition military operations in Yemen.