AL-MUKALLA: The Arab coalition supporting Yemen’s government said on Sunday it had killed at least 165 Iran-backed Houthi militia fighters in strikes south of the battleground city of Marib.
The strikes “destroyed 10 military vehicles and killed more than 165” Houthis in the past 24 hours in the Abedia district, the coalition said, bringing to about 1,000 the number of Houthis killed in the area in the past week.
The Houthis began a major push in February to seize Marib, the internationally recognised government’s last bastion in oil-rich northern Yemen, and have renewed their offensive in recent weeks after a lull.
There is particular concern for about 35,000 civilians in Abedia, where the Houthis have laid siege to the area and refused to allow in shipments of food, drinking water, medicines and other essentials.
The Houthis have rejected fresh calls from the US to lift the siege of Abedia, and instead launched reprisal attacks against locals. Houthi fighters have gone house to house in the district searching for local fighters and soldiers who are resisting their occupation.
“They raided homes, kidnapped a number of wounded, looted private property, including vehicles and household goods, and burned crops,” the Civil Orientation Protection Organization in Marib said.
The government’s special unit for internally displaced people said on Sunday that more than 20,000 civilians had fled fighting in Marib and Shabwa provinces and had taken shelter in Marib city amid severe shortages of accommodation, food and medicine. It warned that people in Abedia were at risk of starvation.
“Many families are still trapped and under siege in Abedia district. They suffer from poor living conditions, with no access to the minimum basic lifesaving services. The absence of humanitarian efforts has made their life conditions even more complicated,” it said.
US officials demanded an end to the violence. “We call on the Houthis to stop their offensive on Marib, and listen to the urgent calls from across Yemen and the international community to bring this conflict to an end and support a UN-led inclusive peace process,” US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.
The US envoy to Yemen, Tim Lenderking, also expressed concerns about the humanitarian situation in Marib. “The fighting must stop and the Houthis must ensure humanitarian access and civilian protection,” he said.