AL-MUKALLA: Iran-backed Houthis have defied US and UN calls to halt their deadly offensive on Yemen’s central city of Marib by drumming up supporters to join the battlefields.
A day after the US slammed the militia for snubbing the UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths in Muscat and refusing to halt their military operations, Mohammed Ali Al-Houthis, the president of the militia’s supreme revolutionary committee, said on Twitter that the movement would continue reinforcing the battlefields with new fighters and equipment and would keep fighting until they outright defeat their opponents.
Thousands of rebel fighters and government troops have been killed in fierce fighting since February, when the Houthis renewed a major offensive to seize control of Marib, the government’s last stronghold in the country’s north.
Local and international aid organizations and officials warned that the Houthi invasion of Marib would trigger a displacement that would fuel the humanitarian crisis, as the city hosts more than 2 million people who have already fled fighting and Houthi suppression.
Briefing the Yemeni Cabinet on the military situation during an online meeting on Saturday, Defense Minister Mohammed Al-Maqdishi said that the Houthis suffered “big” losses in fighters and equipment and the Yemeni Army and allied tribesmen took the initiative on the battlefields and foiled many “suicidal” assaults on Marib, the official news agency SABA reported.
The cabinet urged the international community to take a “firm and clear” stand against the Houthis’ repeated rejection of peace initiatives and their determination to worsen the humanitarian crisis.
“Hazy positions would push this militia and its supporters in Tehran into increasing the suffering (of Yemenis) and the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen,” the Cabinet said in a statement.
Last week, President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi dispatched Prime Minister Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed to Marib in a show of support to government forces.
Saeed was ordered to increase military support to the army and tribesmen who are battling the Houthis close to the city.
At the same time, government officials and activists have launched on Sunday an online campaign in support of government troops battling the Houthis in Marib.
“We call on all Yemenis from all walks of life and political and social groups to participate in the media campaign to support the steadfastness of the heroes of the National Army and the Popular Resistance and the tribes on various fronts in Marib province,” Muammar Al-Eryani, minister of information, culture and tourism, said in a Twitter post.