AL-MUKALLA: Yemeni troops on Thursday recaptured areas from the Houthis south of Marib province, as the UN demanded that the militia ended its siege of Abedia district and other hostilities in the province.
Col. Yahiya Al-Hatemi, director of the army’s military media, told Arab News at least 108 Houthis were killed in fighting during the past 24 hours and that troops had liberated several locations in Juba district from the militia.
Arab coalition warplanes carried out more than two dozen air raids targeting Houthis outside Abedia, hitting the reinforcements that were heading to the battlefields in Marib province.
Fighting flared on Wednesday as troops launched fresh counterattacks in Juba, and Al-Hatemi said the coalition airstrikes had alleviated Houthi pressure on troops and smoothed the way for loyalists to have an upper hand on the battlefields.
The fighting in Juba came as the Houthis rejected local and international calls to end their Abedia siege, which is pushing thousands of civilians into famine.
Yemeni officials said the Houthis on Wednesday had shelled the district's only functioning hospital even as dozens of patients were being treated.
The militia has also snubbed appeals to allow aid organizations to deliver life-saving humanitarian assistance to more than 35,000 people in the district.
Al-Hatemi said coalition warplanes had carried out many airstrikes in Abedia to shore up troops defending the district and to force the Houthis into ending their siege.
The provincial office of the Health Ministry in Marib declared Abedia a “disaster area” due to the Houthi shelling of residential areas and health facilities, the ongoing siege, and severe shortages of medicine, clean drinking water, food and fuel.
It said that local health workers and patients had been evacuated from the district’s main hospital after it was hit by Houthi shells.
“We express deep disappointment as our distress calls have been unjustifiably ignored since the beginning of the deadly siege that targeted women, children and civilians,” the office added.
The UN on Wednesday urged the Houthis to end their siege, protect civilians, and open safe corridors for humanitarian assistance and fleeing civilians.
“The UN is particularly concerned about the situation in Abedia district, in the south-west of Marib,” Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for the secretary-general, said. “The district is home to an estimated 35,000 people, including many who had found refuge there after fleeing conflict in neighboring areas. The area has been encircled by Houthi forces since late September.”