Fighting in Yemen's Marib kills 90 in 24 hours: Govt military sources

A fighter loyal to Yemen's Houthi rebels at the funeral of fellow combatants killed in battles, on Feb 28, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

DUBAI (AFP) - Fierce fighting between Yemeni pro-government forces and Iran-backed Houthi rebels has killed at least 90 combatants on both sides in the past 24 hours, government military sources said on Saturday (March 6).

The Shi'ite rebels launched an offensive last month to seize Marib, the last stronghold in northern Yemen of pro-government forces which are backed by a Saudi-led military coalition.

The clashes in the oil-rich province left 32 dead among government forces and loyalist tribes, while 58 Houthi rebels were killed in coalition air strikes, the sources told AFP.

They said heavy clashes broke out on six fronts as government forces were able to counter attacks by the Houthis, who managed to advance only on the Kassara front north-west of Marib city.

The fighting also left dozens of people wounded, the sources added.

The loss of Marib would be a huge blow for the Yemeni government, but would also threaten catastrophe for civilians, including hundreds of thousands of displaced people sheltering in desolate camps in the surrounding desert.

It would also be a major setback for Saudi Arabia, which has been the target of increasingly frequent Houthi missile attacks in recent weeks.

Shrapnel from Houthi drones intercepted by the Saudis on Friday wounded two civilians, including a 10-year-old, in the south-west of the kingdom, the official SPA news agency reported.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday urged the Houthis to halt their offensive in Marib as he announced US$191 million (S$256 million) in aid at a donors' conference.

"Aid alone will not end the conflict. We can only end the humanitarian crisis in Yemen by ending the war... So the United States is reinvigorating our diplomatic efforts to end the war," he said.

The United Nations had sought to raise US$3.85 billion from more than 100 governments and donors, but only US$1.7 billion was offered.

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