Houthi Forces Reportedly Take Last Stronghold of Pro-Saudi Forces in Southern Marib Province
19:11 GMT 28.07.2021 (Updated: 19:49 GMT 28.07.2021)
© REUTERS / ALI OWIDHAA Yemeni government fighter fires a vehicle-mounted weapon at a frontline position during fighting against Houthi fighters in Marib, Yemen March 9, 2021
© REUTERS / ALI OWIDHA
The Shi’ite militia launched an offensive in the Marib province in February.
Houthi forces and allied militias have captured the strategic al-Fuqara Mountains area, the last stronghold of pro-Saudi forces in the southern Marib province, in heavy fighting, Houthi-aligned media have reported.
According to the report, Houthi forces also made significant advances in the Sanaa and Shabwa provinces.
Situated in the heart of central Yemen, the city of Marib is seen as a prime strategic prize by both sides, with the Houthis considering it the final stronghold of the Saudi-backed government forces in northern Yemen. The city is also home to hundreds of thousands of displaced civilian refugees, and the intensification of fighting in the region has led to fears in the international community regarding their fate.
Also on Wednesday, Saudi-coalition warplanes were reported to have launched 16 raids in the Marib and the al-Jawf provinces, with ground-based sources telling the Yemen Press Agency that combat was taking place on the western and northwestern approaches to Marib, with the city now said to be living in a ‘undeclared state of emergency’.
© AP Photo / Hani MohammedYemen Front Line
Yemen Front Line
© AP Photo / Hani Mohammed
On Tuesday, regional media reported that a “massive explosion” had rocked a coalition headquarters in the Marib province. No further information was provided, and no group claimed responsibility for the incident. The Saudi-led coalition did not comment on the reports.
On Saturday, the Saudi-led coalition reported the destruction of three Houthi drones launched toward targets in the kingdom.
Civil War Set to Enter Seventh Year
Yemen, the poorest county in the Middle East, has been in a state of foreign-backed civil war since 2014, after Houthi militia forces seized control of Yemen’s capital of Sanaa in a popular uprising sparked by the cancellation of fuel subsidies. Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi fled the country to Saudi Arabia, and in March of 2015, Riyadh and a coalition of mostly Gulf allies intervened to try to restore him to power, without success.
In March 2021, after the withdrawal of direct US military support, Saudi Arabia floated a new peace initiative, including a nationwide ceasefire, to end their attacks. The Houthis, however, demanded that Riyadh first lift the economic blockade in place against Yemeni ports and airports to help resolve the dire humanitarian situation in areas they control.
The war in Yemen is feared to have killed as many as 233,000 people, both in fighting and as a result of the humanitarian crisis caused by the conflict, and the Saudi-coalition blockade. The United Nations estimates that three quarters of Yemen’s population is in dire need of basic food and medical assistance.
The Houthis are a moderate Islamist political and militant movement that emerged from the Houthi tribe, predominant in northern Yemen. Achieving a measure of popularity with their anti-corruption, social justice, anti-imperialism, anti-Zionism and Yemeni nationalism campaigns, the group supports a non-sectarian and democratic form of republican governance in Yemen.
With assistance from his sponsors, the president-in-exile, Hadi, pieced together a unity coalition in late 2020, comprised of representatives of his government - now operating out of Riyadh - and the so-called Southern Transitional Council (STC), a secessionist force in Aden, southern Yemen, which previously fought both the Houthis and Hadi's forces.
Members of the new government arrived in Aden in December only to be targeted by a massive missile strike on the airport. Protesters stormed the presidential palace in the de facto Hadi government capital in March, forcing government forces and their foreign allies to beef up their presence in the region. In recent weeks, Hadi, who remains in exile in Riyadh, and the STC have accused one another of reneging on a power-sharing agreement reached in late 2019, leading to renewed infighting.
© AFP 2021 / SALEH AL-OBEIDIProtesters, some raising the old flag of South Yemen, gather to demonstrate against deteriorating services and economic conditions, outside the internationally-recognised Yemeni government's headquarters at al-Maashiq Palace in the Crater district of the southern port city of Aden on March 16, 2021
Protesters, some raising the old flag of South Yemen, gather to demonstrate against deteriorating services and economic conditions, outside the internationally-recognised Yemeni government's headquarters at al-Maashiq Palace in the Crater district of the southern port city of Aden on March 16, 2021