DUBAI: Yemeni troops shelled Houthi militant encampments west of Marib, foiling their attempt to enter the province.
The artillery fire destroyed six Houthi vehicles and killed 20 militants, Yemen’s armed forces news agency September 26 reported.
The governor of Marib on Wednesday rallied troops to defend the territory against a Houthi advance in a potentially decisive fighting for the provincial capital.
Gov. Sultan Al-Arada vowed that the people of Marib, the Yemeni army and the Saudi-led Arab coalition would defeat the Iran-backed militia.
“We will not allow those who raise pictures of Qassem Soleimani to rule us,” the governor said. Soleimani was the commander of Iran’s Quds Force who was killed in an American airstrike in January last year.
Yemeni army spokesperson Maj. Gen. Abdu Abdullah Majili told Arab News on Wednesday that the Houthis had been pushed back from government-controlled areas to the west of Marib, with many attackers killed or injured.
Marib is the Yemeni government’s last bastion north of the country, and is rich in oil and gas reserves.
The Houthis are desperate to capture the province to boost their leverage should peace talks happen, but government forces have so far deterred the militant group’s attempts.