ALEXANDRIA: Fighting between Yemeni loyalists and Houthi rebels seeking to take the strategic northern city of Marib has killed 90 fighters in two days, pro-government military sources said on Tuesday.
The Iran-backed Houthi militia on Monday night mounted a fresh assault on the internationally recognized government’s forces in Al-Mashjah and Al-Kasara areas, west of Marib, triggering heavy clashes that continued until Tuesday afternoon and claimed the lives of dozens of combatants.
The Ministry of Defense said that dozens of Houthis were killed in the fighting and that they lost a significant amount of military equipment.
Loyalist officials told AFP that pro-government forces had repelled Houthi attacks north of the city in clashes that left 63 rebels and 27 loyalist fighters dead since Monday.
The Ministry of Defense said the Houthis lost a significant amount of military equipment.
State media on Tuesday broadcast videos showing government forces exchanging mortar and heavy machine gun fire with the Houthis as a large convoy of vehicles rushed to reinforce government troops.
Bodies of dead Houthis were also seen scattered on the battlefield.
Yemeni Army commanders and government officials said that massive military support, logistics and air cover from the Arab coalition have shored up Yemeni government forces and helped thwart relentless Houthi assaults on Marib.
Lt. Col. Rashad Al-Mekhlafi, a military official at the Yemeni Army’s Moral Guidance Department, told Arab News that military operations and airstrikes in Marib have greatly worn down the Houthis, with the rebels losing thousands of fighters, including many senior commanders.
“The Houthi militia has been largely depleted. The Arab coalition warplanes played a vital role in striking its reinforcements and weapons depots and destroying its equipment,” Al-Mekhlafi said.
To seize control of Marib’s oil and gas fields and power stations, the Houthis resumed a major military offensive in February.
The effort has forced thousands of Yemenis to flee their homes amid warnings from local and international aid organizations that the Houthi invasion of Marib would aggravate the humanitarian crisis and trigger a large displacement, with the city hosting thousands of internally displaced people.
The government and military commanders have vowed to push ahead with military operations in Marib until the Houthis are defeated and justice is brought to rebel leaders who ordered attacks on civilians across Yemen.
Yemen’s official news agency reported on Monday that Prime Minister Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed telephoned senior military commanders in Marib to renew the government’s support to troops and allied tribesmen in their “decisive” battle against the Houthis, vowing to punish the Iran-backed force for disrupting peace efforts to end the war and killing and abducting Yemenis.
The Yemeni Army’s chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Sagheer bin Aziz, also said that its troops and tribesmen have high combat skills and morale.
He said they follow military plans and that “the force of arms” alone would put an end to the Houthi militia’s takeover of power.
“They would destroy the capabilities of the Iranian Houthi terrorist militia and force them to surrender by force of arms, as that is the only way to restore the state and end the suffering of our people,” Bin Aziz tweeted.
Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia denounced
Meanwhile, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg on Tuesday condemned the relentless Houthi attacks on civilians in Saudi Arabia, describing them as “unacceptable.”
Saudi Arabia’s air defenses intercepted and destroyed a booby-trapped drone launched by the militia toward southern Saudi Arabia, state TV reported.
The drone was targeting the city of Khamis Mushayt. The Arab coalition said this was the latest example of the Houthis deliberately targeting civilians and civilian targets.
At a press conference with his Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Schallenberg said Vienna supports developments taking place across Saudi Arabia in several areas.
Prince Faisal said the Houthi militia has regularly rejected initiatives for a complete ceasefire, and always resorted to escalating the situation.