Renewed clashes between government forces and Huthi rebels over the important northern Yemeni city of Marib have killed 47 people, including 16 pro-government soldiers, according to military sources on Saturday.
After six years of conflict that has driven Yemen into a humanitarian disaster, Iran-backed rebels are attempting to capture control of Marib and its adjacent oil fields, the Yemeni government’s final stronghold in the north.
Diplomatic efforts to achieve a ceasefire in Yemen have increased in tandem with the intense struggle for control of Marib, which has killed hundreds on both sides.
But with no agreement in sight, the fighting has flared again after a lull over the past month.
Sources with the internationally recognised government told AFP that 16 soldiers from their ranks were killed, including six officers, on Saturday. The insurgents rarely report their casualties.
The Huthis “launched attacks on various fronts, in an attempt to advance, but they were mostly repelled,” one of the officials told AFP.
The sources said that warplanes from the Saudi-led coalition, which supports the beleaguered government, launched air strikes on rebel sites.
The Huthis said on their Al Masirah television channel that the coalition had also carried out 17 air strikes in different parts of Marib province.
The renewed fighting over Marib comes after the failure of a diplomatic push by the United Nations, the United States and regional nations to secure a ceasefire in Yemen.
🇾🇪 #Yemen: We are seriously concerned at the continuing impact of fighting on civilians and targeting of civilian objects in Marib Governorate. We urge all parties to the conflict to go back to the negotiating table and agree on a nationwide ceasefire.
👉 https://t.co/14DUHo3Kq6 pic.twitter.com/EdutFShqSZ
— UN Human Rights (@UNHumanRights) June 18, 2021
The outgoing UN envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths on Tuesday told the Security Council his own efforts over the past three years to end the war have been “in vain”.
“It is with deep regret that I report today that the parties have not overcome their differences,” he said.
Yemen has been devastated by the civil war which broke out in 2014, and millions of civilians are on the brink of famine, according to the UN.
Before agreeing to a truce, the Huthis have repeatedly asked that the airport in the rebel-held northern city of Sanaa be reopened.
In addition to the deadly battle in Marib, the Huthis have increased drone and missile attacks on Saudi targets, particularly oil infrastructure.
Saudi air defences intercepted and destroyed 11 drones fired towards the kingdom by Huthi rebels in Yemen on Saturday, according to Saudi official television, citing the coalition fighting the militants.
“The interception operations were successful,” the alliance said in a statement, adding that the drones were laden with explosives and that seven of them were destroyed in Yemeni airspace.