AL-MUKALLA: The Yemeni army and allied tribesmen have pushed back Houthi assaults on Marib city, an army spokesman said Tuesday as he denied media reports that the rebels were getting close to their target.
Maj. Gen. Abdu Abdullah Majili said the rebels had failed to make major gains in their continuing offensive and had lost hundreds of fighters, including many military leaders.
“Until now the Yemeni national army and tribesmen are inflicting heavy defeats on the Houthis, foiling their attacks, killing their fighters and destroying their equipment,” he told Arab News, adding that the Houthis were still sending reinforcements to the battlefield in their bid to defeat government troops. “The Houthis are spreading lies and rumors as part of their psychological warfare to compensate for their setbacks on the battlefields.”
On Sunday the AFP news agency reported that the Houthis had made gains after seizing control of Al-Kasara, which is northwest of the city.
Yemeni military officials and journalists visited Al-Kasara, interviewing soldiers and tribesmen who denied the Houthis were making progress.
“We are stationed in our barricades and our hands are on the trigger,” a soldier called Mohammed told the army’s official news site. “We will keep fighting off the Houthis on all fronts and not allow them to make any advance toward Marib.”
The Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that government forces had mounted a counteroffensive in Al-Mashjah, west of Marib, and killed many Houthis.
Arab coalition warplanes targeted rebel gatherings and military equipment, with at least 10 Houthis killed in Al-Makhdra after troops attacked their locations.
More than 2,000 rebels and government troops have been killed since early February, when the Houthis resumed their offensive to take control of oil-rich Marib.
On Monday senior military and security officials attended a funeral procession for military judge Maj. Gen. Abdullah Al-Hadhri, who was killed in fighting with the Houthis in Marib.
Abdu Rabbo Meftah, deputy governor of Marib, said the offensive had pushed the number of displaced people to more than 2.3 million after thousands abandoned their camps close to the battlefields and took shelter in overcrowded camps in the city.
In the southern city of Taiz, troops seized control of several villages in Maqbanah district after clashes with the Houthis.
They were now battling to push the rebels from the district’s center, Taiz army spokesman Abdul Basit Al-Baher told state media on Tuesday.
The fighting came as the UN’s Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths called for the assault on Marib to stop and demanded that the warring factions comply with UN peace efforts.
“The parties must prioritize the needs of the Yemeni people, stop fighting and engage seriously with the UN’s efforts,” he said. “I will continue to pursue my good offices with the support of regional and international stakeholders to stop military hostilities, alleviate humanitarian suffering and find a peaceful and sustainable settlement to end the conflict in Yemen.”