Iran-backed Houthis resume offensive in Yemen’s Marib

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Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia have resumed an offensive to seize the government’s last northern stronghold of Marib, a government source said Monday, with dozens of casualties on both sides.

New clashes between the internationally-recognized government forces and the militia erupted after weeks of relative calm in the oil-rich and strategic region.

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A government source told AFP that the Houthis had brought in reinforcements during that time.

“Fighting took place about 10 kilometers (six miles) west of Marib,” the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“At least 20 government fighters were killed and 28 others injured,” he said, adding that many Houthis also died but no accurate count was available.

The Houthis have since 2014 held the capital Sanaa which lies just 120 kilometers (75 miles) away and are mounting a fierce campaign to take Marib.

Houthi followers wave up their weapons during a gathering in Sanaa, Yemen. (File photo: Reuters)
Houthi followers wave up their weapons during a gathering in Sanaa, Yemen. (File photo: Reuters)

In the past 24 hours, government forces repelled “five attacks”, the source said, a day after three pro-government fighters were killed and four injured in a missile attack on their camp in Marib.

The US State Department said Friday it had formally notified Congress of its intention to revoke a terrorist designation against the Houthis, which had been announced at the end of former president Donald Trump’s administration.

The delisting move came a day after Trump’s successor Joe Biden announced an end to US support for offensive operations in Yemen.

Humanitarian groups were deeply opposed to the terrorist designation, saying it jeopardized their operations in a country where the majority of people rely on aid, and that they have no choice but to deal with the Houthis, who control much of the north.

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