AL-MUKALLA: Yemeni government officials and human rights activists have condemned a Houthi missile attack in the central city of Marib that killed five civilians and wounded 23 others, some of them children.
Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Muammar Al-Eryani said a missile fired by the Iran-backed militia on Wednesday evening hit the airport neighborhood.
He called on the world to punish the Houthis for their crimes against civilians.
“Houthi terrorist militia’s deliberate targeting of residential areas and civilians in Marib is a full-fledged war crime,” he said on Twitter, adding that the “cowardly act of revenge” reflected the losses suffered by the Houthis at the hands of the “heroes of the army, resistance and Giants Brigades on various war fronts.”
The official SABA news agency reported that many people were critically wounded in the attack and had been taken to two government-run hospitals in Marib.
Al-Eryani called for designating the Houthis as a terrorist organization and prosecuting its leaders who masterminded deadly strikes against civilian targets across Yemen.
The American Center for Justice said in a statement on Thursday it “condemns in the strongest terms the Houthi group’s continued targeting of civilians and residential neighborhoods in the city of Marib using ballistic missiles in a systematic manner.”
Hundreds of civilians have been killed or wounded since early last year when the Houthis intensified their missile, drone and ground attacks on Marib in a bid to take full control of the strategic, oil-rich city.
The shelling is happening as the militia continues to suffer defeats in the provinces of Marib and Taiz.
Local officials and media reports said on Thursday that fighting between the Houthis and government forces had intensified in contested areas in Juba and Abedia, south of Marib, as the government’s Giants Brigades pushed to advance deeper into the two strategic districts.
Building on the latest gains in Marib province since the start of this year, the Giants Brigades on Wednesday rolled into Al-Jafra in Abedia for the first time since September and marched toward its center.
In an attempt to block the advancing forces, the Houthis on Wednesday blew up a road on Malla’a mountain, south of Marib, and planted land mines.
Meanwhile, army officer Abdul Basit Al-Baher said the Yemeni army, backed by air cover from the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy, on Thursday liberated a number of villages and other locations in Maqbanah district, west of the southern city of Taiz, after fighting with the Houthis.
On Wednesday, the Houthis arranged large funeral processions in areas under their control, including Sanaa, for 60 of their fighters, including 35 officers, killed in the recent fighting.
Local officials believe Houthi casualties have increased this month but the militia is playing down the numbers so as not to damage their fighters’ morale.
According to a coalition statement issued on Thursday, over the previous 24 hours more than 190 Houthis were killed and 29 of their vehicles destroyed in 44 airstrikes by warplanes in the provinces of Al-Bayda, Marib and Taiz.