06/23/2021, 09.53
YEMEN
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Marib, at least 90 dead in Houthi offensive on government stronghold

At least 63 rebels and 27 government soldiers died in two days of fighting. There is an escalation of military operations in the area. The United Nations diplomatic efforts for a lasting ceasefire at risk. The humanitarian situation of 1,800 displaced families alarming.

Marib (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The still provisional toll of the fighting between government loyalists and Houthi militias in northern Yemen is at least 90 dead in two days, where an offensive by Shiite rebels is underway to conquer Marib, a town of strategic importance.

Military sources close to the authorities recognized by the international community, report the rebel front is implementing "an escalation in military operations".

Marib is the last government stronghold in northern Yemen and the target of the offensive launched last February by the Iranian-backed Houthis. The area on the outskirts of the city is rich in oil. Hundreds of fighters from both fronts have died in the fighting so far and the fear of a humanitarian catastrophe is high.

Many inhabitants hastily left the area, finding refuge in other parts of the country.

The humanitarian situation of the civilian population is also beginning to worry in the area. Recently, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that 52% of people in Marib are in need of food support. The resurgence of fighting and the Houthi bombings on the city, which caused the displacement of thousands of people, have aggravated the plight of more than 1,800 families in the as-Suwayda refugee camp: they are deprived of food, drinking water and electricity.

A loyalist source told AFP yesterday that government forces repelled the attack by the Houthis; In two days of fighting, at least 63 rebels and 27 government soldiers died.

The escalation of violence in Marib inflames a conflict again after weeks of relative calm and risks undermining the diplomatic efforts of the United Nations for a lasting ceasefire. The same source claims that the Houthi attacks have reached "a high level" in recent days.

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.

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