AL-MUKALLA: Hundreds of Yemeni government troops were deployed to the central city of Marib to reinforce the soldiers and allied tribes fighting off a bloody Houthi offensive that is encroaching on the strategic location outside the city, Yemen’s information minister said.
Muammar Al-Eryani tweeted that the new highly trained and well-armed military units would tilt the balance of fighting in favor of government troops as the Houthis have been significantly depleted by the loyalists’ attritional tactics over recent months.
“Marib province battlefields were reinforced with trained units after the depletion of the Houthi terrorist militias in the battles,” Al-Eryani said, thanking the Saudi-led Arab Coalition for arming and training the new forces.
Video footage on social media showed a long convoy of pickups, buses, and military vehicles carrying hundreds of soldiers who were chanting, “with our souls and blood, we will redeem you, Yemen,” while heading to Marib.
Rashad Al-Mekhlafi, a military official at Yemen’s Armed Forces Guidance Department, told Arab News on Wednesday that the forces were repositioned from less intense battlefields in the northern province of Saada, the Houthi heartlands, and would be deployed along Marib’s flaring fronts.
“We think that at least 70 percent of Houthi manpower and firepower is in Marib nowadays,” Al-Mekhlafi said, adding: “So we do not think that the Houthis would exploit the forces’ relocation to mount attacks in Saada.”
Since February, the Iran-backed Houthis have been aggressively attacking the central city of Marib, the government’s last bastion in the northern half of Yemen, despite their heavy losses and causing the displacement of thousands of people.
On Wednesday, heavy fighting broke out in areas south of Marib after the Houthis assaulted government troops in Juba.
Al-Mekhlafi said that at least 150 Houthis are killed every day in Marib either through firefights with government troops or via coalition airstrikes.
The Marib deployment comes as government troops along the country’s western coastline were ordered to cut their vacations, return to their military bases and maintain high military readiness.
“We were told to be on high alert for military missions,” a military officer from the Giants Brigades, who did not want to be identified, told Arab News on Wednesday, referring to an area in Hodeidah province.
“We do not know if this is related to opening new fronts in Hays or elsewhere or to reinforce other battlefields,” the officer added.
Last week, the Joint Forces, an umbrella term for three major military units in the country’s western coast, suddenly withdrew from several districts in the Hodeidah province — including part of the city of Hodeidah — and were stationed in the Red Sea Khokha, south of Hodeidah.
The coalition said that the movement of forces in Hodeidah is part of a military plan to reinforce government troops on all fronts.