70 dead as battle for Yemen’s Marib rages on three fronts

The Nation  |  Apr 12, 2021

Dubai - Fierce fighting for Yemen’s strategic Marib city has killed 70 pro-government and Huthi rebel fighters over the past 24 hours, with battles raging on three fronts, loyalist military officials said Sunday.

The Huthis have been trying to seize Marib, the capital of an oil-rich region and the government’s last significant pocket of territory in the north, since February. Two officials from pro-government forces told AFP that the rebels were mounting a concerted push that had left 26 loyalist soldiers dead as well as 44 from Huthi ranks. The rebels rarely disclose their losses. 

The new toll adds to 53 killed on both sides in the previous 24 hours, according to loyalist military officials. One of the officials said Sunday that the rebels “are launching simultaneous attacks” in the areas of Kassara and Al-Mashjah, northwest of the city, and Jabal Murad in the south.

“They have made progress on the Kassara and Al-Mashjah fronts, but they have been thwarted on the Jabal Murad front,” he told AFP. The other official said that warplanes from the Saudi-led military coalition, which entered the Yemen conflict to support the government in 2015, launched airstrikes that “destroyed 12 Huthi military vehicles, including four tanks and a cannon. However, the Saudi firepower does not seem to have halted the rebel offensive.

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Fears for civilians 

The Iran-backed Huthis in late 2014 overran the capital Sanaa, 120 kilometres (75 miles) to the west of Marib, along with much of northern Yemen. The loss of Marib would be a heavy blow for the Yemeni government, currently based in the southern city of Aden, and for its Saudi backers. It could also lead to humanitarian disaster, as vast numbers of civilians displaced from fighting elsewhere have sought refuge in Marib.

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