RIYADH: The Iran-backed Houthis on Saturday fired a ballistic missile at Yemen’s central city of Marib, as the country’s new leader pledged to pursue peace with the group and bring stability to war-torn Yemen.
Local authorities and residents in Marib said a large explosion shook the densely populated city after a ballistic missile fired by the Houthis hit it. There has been no information on injuries or loss of life.
Marib hosts more than 2 million internally displaced people who fled war and Houthi repression in their home provinces.
The attack came as fighting between government forces and the Houthis raged on Friday night and Saturday morning at flashpoint sites outside the city of Marib, mainly in Juba district.
“Fighting on Friday was the fiercest. We managed to push back the Houthi attacks and destroyed one of their military vehicles,” a military official who spoke on condition of anonymity told Arab News by telephone.
Yemen’s army has accused the Houthis of exploiting the UN-brokered humanitarian truce that took effect on April 2, to deploy heavy weapons and new forces as they launch more aggressive attacks on the city of Marib.
The Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen announced a halt in airstrikes on Houthi targets across the country in support of the truce and peace efforts.
The UN Yemen envoy Hans Grundberg on Friday called upon warring factions to stop hostilities in Marib and stick to the truce.
“I am following very closely the latest developments in #Marib and urge all parties to show restraint and their continued commitment to the truce as promised to Yemenis,” Grundberg said on Twitter.
The raging fighting is happening as the president of the newly formed Presidential Leadership Council in Yemen, Rashad Al-Alimi, on Friday vowed to work on ending the war and achieving a comprehensive peace deal.
In his first speech to the Yemeni people, Al-Alimi said that the new council would adhere to the 2011 GCC initiative, outcomes of the National Dialogue Conferences, resolutions of GCC-brokered Yemeni consultations in Riyadh, international charters and the UN Security Council resolutions.
“The Presidential Leadership Council promises our Yemeni people to work to end the war and establish peace,” he said.
“This council is a peace council, not a war council, but it is also a defense, strength and unity council whose mission is to defend the sovereignty of the nation and protect the citizens.”
He thanked the Saudi-led coalition for its economic, political and humanitarian assistance to Yemen, vowing to fight terrorism and revive and reform state institutions.
He also thanked international mediators, mainly the UN and US Yemen envoys, for their efforts to bring peace to Yemen.
“The Presidential Leadership Council will firmly fight all forms of terrorism and outsider sectarian conflicts.”
On Thursday, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi transferred his presidential powers to the eight-man council, led by Al-Alimi, his adviser and former interior minister. The council has been tasked with running the country and starting peace talks with the Houthis.