Marib, violent clashes between government and Houthis: at least 47 dead, numerous injured

Victims include 16 members of government forces, including six officers.  For months the Houthis have been trying to wrest the last stronghold in the north.  Local sources report violent attacks, with the use of missiles and drones.  Stall in the attempted truce mediated by Oman.  UN envoy: "The parties have not resolved their differences".


Sana’a (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A new, violent wave of fighting between the government army and Houthi rebels over the weekend affected the city of Marib, in northern Yemen, causing at least 47 victims and numerous injuries.  According to military sources, among the dead there are also 16 members of the forces loyal to the government recognized by the international community, six of these were officers.  In recent years, thousands of civilians and combatants have died in the battle for control of the territory.

For months the Houthis have been trying to wrest the last government stronghold in the north of the country;  the area is of strategic importance for the numerous oil wells that surround the city.

Sources close to the government say that the Houthis "launched attacks on various fronts, in an attempt to advance, but were overwhelmingly rejected".  Saudi fighters also intervened in the operation and hit "enemy positions".  Through their television channel al-Masirah, the pro-Iranian rebels have accused the air force of the Wahhabi kingdom of having launched another 17 attacks in different areas of the province of Marib where the Houthi offensive is continuing.  The rebel militias responded to the military operations in the area with missile launches and the dispatch of drones against targets in Saudi territory, including oil wells.  The Saudi air defense system reportedly have intercepted and shot down at least 11 drones coming from Yemeni territory.

Earlier this month, Oman officials, who have long mediated regional conflicts, particularly between Riyadh and Tehran, visited Sana’a to try to persuade the rebels to accept a ceasefire.  However, diplomatic efforts seem increasingly in vain in the face of a resurgence of armed conflict, while the prospect of an agreement is increasingly remote.  The confirmation comes from the current UN special envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths, who informed the Security Council that "the parties have not resolved their differences".

The war in Yemen began in 2014 as an internal conflict between pro-Saudi government and Shiite Houthi rebels close to Iran. It degenerated in March 2015 with the intervention of the Arab coalition led by Riyadh and has registered over 10 thousand dead and 55 thousand injured. 

For the UN the conflict has triggered "the worst humanitarian crisis in the world", about 24 million Yemenis (80% of the population) urgently need humanitarian assistance.  The coronavirus pandemic has had even more devastating impact with a healthcare system that has collapsed. Millions of people are on the verge of starvation and experts say children will suffer the consequences for the next 20 years.