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Yemen rebels advance on Marib

FILE PHOTO: A Yemeni government fighter fires a vehicle-mounted weapon at a frontline position during fighting against Houthi fighters in Marib, Yemen March 9, 2021. Picture taken March 9, 2021. REUTERS/Ali Owidha/File Photo

FILE PHOTO: A Yemeni government fighter fires a vehicle-mounted weapon at a frontline position during fighting against Houthi fighters in Marib, Yemen March 9, 2021. Picture taken March 9, 2021. REUTERS/Ali Owidha/File Photo

Yemen’s Houthi rebels have made important gains in the battle for the government’s last northern stronghold, advancing close to the centre of Marib city despite heavy casualties, military sources said on Sunday.

The rebels have taken full control of the northwest Kassara battlefield and made progress on western frontlines despite airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition which backs Yemen’s government, the loyalist military sources said.

Marib and its surrounding oil fields make up the last significant pocket of government-held territory in the north, the rest of which is under rebel control, including the capital Sanaa.

Fierce fighting has left at least 65 dead over the past two days alone, including some 26 loyalists, among them four officers, the government sources said. The Iran-backed Houthis rarely disclose their own losses.

With the Houthis taking control of the Kassara front, the battles have moved to the Al-Mil area, which is a mere 6 km from the centre of Marib and its population centres, they said.

However, mountains around Al-Mil remain a formidable barrier to the rebels, who began their campaign for Marib in February.

The government sources said the Houthis had poured in hundreds of reinforcements in recent days to achieve the gains, resorting to motorbikes after the coalition targeted their military vehicles.

The loss of Marib would be a major blow for the Yemeni government and for Saudi Arabia which has supported its militarily since March 2015, after the rebels captured Sanaa.

Humanitarian crisis

Observers say the Houthis are intent on capturing the city in order to gain leverage before entering into any negotiations with the government, amid a U.S. push to revive peace talks.

The city’s fall could also lead to a humanitarian disaster, as vast numbers of civilians displaced from fighting elsewhere have sought refuge in the area. Around 140 camps have sprung up in the surrounding desert to provide basic shelter for up to two million displaced.


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Printable version | Jun 27, 2022 11:00:03 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/yemen-rebels-advance-on-marib/article34408415.ece