AL-MUKALLA: Yemeni government troops, backed by Arab coalition warplanes, seized control of several mountainous locations near the central city of Marib after fierce clashes with the Houthis, an army spokesperson said on Sunday.
Maj. Gen. Abdu Abdullah Majili told a press briefing that troops had expelled the militia from several locations in Al-Kasara and Al-Mashjah, west of Marib, captured three rebels and destroyed more than 20 military vehicles. Coalition warplanes destroyed vehicles carrying ammunition and fighters headed for battle.
“The Houthi militia suffered heavy casualties. They are fleeing their locations, barricades and trenches.”
He played a video that showed troops climbing mountains and rebels fleeing their vehicles and locations.
Thousands of troops and Houthis have been killed in the province since February, when the rebels resumed a military offensive on the city.
Official media on Sunday reported government military leader in Marib, Fahed Mabkhout Al-Arada, as saying that the bodies of Houthi fighters were still scattered on the battlefield as forces pressed to push the rebels away from the province.
“Houthi losses are very big. Their bodies are thrown in mountains and valleys. We would not allow them to enter Marib.”
Military officials said that, following the latest territorial gains, troops had halted the offensive in part of the province and taken the upper hand.
Col. Yahiya Al-Hatemi, the director of the military media, described the troops’ latest operations as the “mother of all battles” that gave loyalists a big morale boost as they managed to push back months of aggressive assault.
“The battle revealed the enemy's fragility and demonstrated the strength, boldness, skills and professionalism of the national army,” Al-Hatemi said, adding that coalition air cover had helped government troops to liberate mountains west of Marib during the last 48 hours.
In Houthi-held areas such as Sanaa and Saada, rebels arranged funeral processions for the dozens of fighters killed in the Marib fighting.
During a meeting with senior military officials and the governors of Marib, Sanaa, Rayma and Jouf, Defense Minister Mohammed Ali Al-Maqdashi said the army backed the Marib governor’s latest calls for mobilizing forces to liberate the province and the other remaining areas under Houthi control.
“We are able to achieve an honorable victory,” the minister said.