Dozens of combatants have been killed and wounded, as heavy fighting has broken out between Yemeni government troops and the Iran-backed Houthis outside the central city of Marib during the past 24 hours, a local military official told Arab News on Sunday.
The fighting took place as the UN Yemen envoy, Hans Grundberg, announced the conclusion of his first week of consultations with key Yemeni parties.
Backed by Arab coalition warplanes, Yemen army troops and allied tribal fighters on Sunday attacked Houthi fighters stationed on mountainous terrain south of Marib city, with the aim of pushing the militia away from the strategic city.
“We set ambushes and attacked the Houthis in Juba district. We managed to advance in the Akada mountain range,” the anonymous Yemeni military official said. The fierce fighting on the ground sparked heavy airstrikes by Arab coalition warplanes that destroyed Houthi military reinforcements and vehicles.
“The Arab coalition has carried out many precision airstrikes that hit the enemy’s locations and military equipment,” the official said.
Local media reports also said that the Houthis on Friday and Saturday renewed their attacks on government troops on Al-Balaq mountain range outside Marib city, but largely failed to achieve any territorial gains after government troops repelled their advances.
The strategic Al-Balaq is the closest battlefield to the city of Marib. Houthi seizure of the mountain range would enable artillery strikes over sections of the city. The coalition said on Sunday that 12 air raids by jets killed many Houthis and destroyed eight vehicles in Marib province during the past 24 hours.
For more than a year, the Houthis have relentlessly attacked the city, the government’s last bastion in the northern half of Yemen, rejecting warnings from local and international organizations about the impact of the attacks on the growing humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The Houthi offensive on Marib has claimed the lives of thousands of combatants and civilians, and forced thousands of people to flee their homes across the province.
At the same time, Yemen President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi ordered his government to give urgent attention and financial assistance to army troops battling the Houthis across the country, the official news agency said on Saturday. Hadi told his commanders in Marib city that they should pay soldiers’ salaries on time, provide them financial incentives, treat the wounded and take care of the families of dead soldiers.
Separately, the UN Yemen envoy announced in the Jordanian capital, Amman, the conclusion of his first week of direct consultations with key Yemeni parties.
It comes as part of his efforts to listen to views, ideas and suggestions that will be included in his framework for ending the war in Yemen.
During the first week, the UN envoy met with leaders of the General People’s Congress and representatives from Al-Islah Party, the Yemeni Socialist Party and the Nasserist Unionist People’s Organization. This week, Grundberg will meet in Amman with representatives of the Southern Transitional Council, the Inclusive Hadramout Conference, the General People’s Congress, as well as security experts, economists and civil society leaders.
“The special envoy explained that the intent of the consultations was to gather, in an honest and frank way, ideas, views and suggestions on immediate and long-term priorities for the political, security and economic tracks,” Grundberg’s office said in a statement.