Yemen’s Houthis launch new assault on key Red Sea province

Updated Residents of Yemen’s Marib province have braced for a new military offensive by Iran-backed Houthi rebels to secure their stronghold on the Red Sea coast, a source with the government said. The advance…

Yemen's Houthis launch new assault on key Red Sea province

Updated

Residents of Yemen’s Marib province have braced for a new military offensive by Iran-backed Houthi rebels to secure their stronghold on the Red Sea coast, a source with the government said.

The advance comes after the Houthis unilaterally quit the southern port city of Aden on Thursday, amid conflicting reports on their intentions.

“The Houthis launched an attack at dawn on Marib province … killing many fighters and destroying checkpoints,” a resident told Reuters. “There are some camps in Bani-Mashar,” he added, referring to a district north of the provincial capital.

Pro-government forces have been trying to unseat the Houthis, who control Sanaa, a major coastal city, for three years in a civil war that has killed more than 10,000 people.

Houthi fighters had last launched an offensive in May 2017, imposing a siege on Marib province and crushing much of the resistance after cutting a supply route from Yemen’s main port, Hodeidah, to the rebel-held capital.

But this week, the country’s exiled president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, called on the Houthis to withdraw from a new front in Marib province, raising hopes of a breakthrough in Yemen’s war.

The United Nations has been trying to broker peace talks between the warring parties but the Houthis have so far refused to attend and other Yemeni groups and Sunni Muslim states hostile to Tehran have objected to any Iranian role in negotiations.

Senior Houthi official Mohammed Abdelsalam said Hadi’s Yemen Centre for reconciliation was “totally illegitimate” and had tried to “tame the Yemeni people and ignite civil war”.

It was funded by the Saudis and Gulf Arab states who intervened in the war in 2015 to try to restore Hadi’s government to power.

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