Al-Hamran, who commanded Houthi special forces in the battlezones of Ma'rib and Bayda' governorates in central Yemen, was the highest-ranking rebel leader killed this year.
A journalist with the Syrian news outlet Al-Masdar News reported Al-Hamran was actually killed several days ago in the city of Sirwah, a hotly contested town west of Ma'rib.
يُعدّ أهم مسؤول حوثي قتل في السنوات الأخيرة.. مصرع قائد القوات الخاصة الحوثية محمد عبدالكريم الحمران في مواجهات غربي مارب. pic.twitter.com/aV2YkZkma5— المصدر أونلاين (@almasdaronline) May 7, 2020
According to the Associated Press, Al-Hamran's death came amid a massive assault along the entire front by Saudi aircraft and their allied ground forces in the region that included strikes in Sana'a, the Yemeni capital.
The Houthis launched a major offensive aimed at seizing Ma'rib one month ago, just as the Saudis were preparing to offer a ceasefire on humanitarian grounds, as the COVID-19 pandemic was spreading in the region. Ma'rib has long remained loyal to ousted Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, who fled the southern city of Aden in early 2015 as the rising Houthis threatened to capture the city.
Hadi sought Saudi help in returning to power, and the Saudis assembled a coalition that included the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Morocco, and other countries, and which enjoyed support and cooperation from the US military, launching a major air and ground campaign in Yemen that has killed at least 100,000 people and threatened millions more with starvation and disease.
On April 30, Houthi military spokesperson Brigadier General Yahya Saree announced that all that remained of the loyalist pocket in northern Yemen was the city of Ma'rib itself, nearly all of the surrounding territory having been seized in the offensive, including vital military bases, Middle East Monitor reported at the time.
Hailing from northern Yemen, the Zaidi Shiite Houthis rebelled against Hadi's government amid a series of cutbacks on subsidies for fuel and other goods, as well as a federalization plan the Houthis feared would amplify regional poverty instead of alleviating it.