The Houthi militia have launched large-scale attacks against Yemen’s government forces stationed in the country’s oil-rich province of Marib, which killed 58 people from both sides, a military official said.
“Several areas and positions controlled by the government forces were heavily attacked by the Houthis who are expanding their military operations aimed at capturing Marib,” the official told Xinhua news agency on Thursday.
Ferocious battles are still taking place between the two warring sides in various areas of Marib amid intensified airstrikes, the source said.
During the past 48 hours, 40 Houthis and 18 soldiers of the Saudi-backed Yemeni government forces were killed, he confirmed.
He clarified that scores of the Houthi fighters were left injured as warplanes of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition continued striking their positions in Marib.
Another official of the government forces told Xinhua that “a series of Saudi-led airstrikes largely participated in aborting the Houthi offensive against Marib”.
He said that “hundreds of new Houthi fighters from other northern provinces were dispatched to Marib as reinforcements for the rebel militia”.
The Houthis also intensified their random shelling against the government-controlled areas in Marib’s southern part, causing civilian casualties, according to the official.
In February, the Houthis began a major offensive on Marib in an attempt to seize control of the oil-rich province, the government’s last northern stronghold.
The UN has warned that the offensive on Marib, which hosts nearly 1 million internally displaced people, could lead to a major humanitarian catastrophe.
Yemen’s civil war flared up in late 2014 when the Iran-backed Houthi group seized control of much of the country’s north and forced the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi out of the capital Sanaa.
The Saudi-led Arab coalition intervened in the Yemeni conflict in March 2015 to support Hadi’s government.