Yemen: Houthi missile hits Marib tribal leaders' meeting

Information minister says at least 13 people were killed in the attack, including two sons of a tribal leader

Fighters loyal to Yemen's government near Al Jawba in Marib province. AFP
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Thirteen people were killed when a missile launched by Houthi rebels hit a house in Al Jawba district of Yemen's Marib province on Thursday, Information Minister Moammer Al Eryani said.

Two of the dead were sons of Sheikh Abdul Latif Al Qibli, a local tribal leader, Mr Al Eryani said on Twitter.

"The Houthis struck a home owned by Sheikh Abdul Latif Al Qibli while he was holding a meeting with other leaders of those [tribes] fighting along the government troops," a source told The National.

"A missile rocked the house, killing and injuring 13 people among them two sons of the sheikh and a child " he said.

The Iran-backed rebels launched an offensive on Marib city, the provincial capital, in February and have stepped up their attacks in recent weeks.

The province is the last northern stronghold of the internationally recognised government, which is based in the southern port city Aden after rebels overran the capital, Sanaa, in 2014.

The fighting in Marib raised concerns about civilian safety, including about two million people displaced from other parts of the country during more than six years of civil war.

“If the conflict reaches the city, it would be a disaster for them,” said Basheer Omar, a representative for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Yemen.

Mr Al Eryani said the Houthi rebels continued to "systematically and deliberately bombard villages and homes" with medium and heavy weapons, drones and missiles "to inflict maximum casualties among civilians".

The attacks have forced hundreds of local families and displaced people to flee Al Jawba, he said.

Countering the Houthi offensive, the Arab military coalition supporting the government has reported hundreds of rebel casualties from almost daily air strikes in Marib in the past three weeks.

On Thursday, the Saudi-led coalition said 95 rebels were killed by air strikes near Marib city, including in Al Jawba, about 50 kilometres to the south, and Al Kassara, 30 kilometres to the north-west.

Yemen's conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced millions internally in what the UN has described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Tens of thousands have been displaced in Marib alone this year, including nearly 10,000 in September, according to the UN's International Organisation for Migration.

Displaced civilians recount ordeal

“We barely fled the intensive clashes in Al Jubah last week to reside with my older brother's family, who have moved to the city, where they rented a flat in Marib months ago," Ali Al Muradi an internally displaced person who fled the fierce flaring in southern Marib told The National.

"We have been living very miserable conditions – five families live in a small flat packed with more than 30 inhabitants," Mr Al Muradi said.

"The flat is a shelter for our women and children. For us men, we live in the open. We sleep either in the building's yard or on the street."

Recently, the Houthis pressed their offensive pushing towards the oil-rich city from three fronts, tightening the cordon around the city.

"We have just arrived in the city, escaping the grinding war in Al Jubah but the clashes are getting closer to the city now. What a nightmare,” Mr Al Muradi said.

"The battle is flaring up in villages of Al Garshah and Yaarah 35 kilometres southern Marib city," Sheikh Mohammed Al Qardaei, a tribal leader leading the tribes southern Marib, told The National on Friday night.

On Friday evening, Houthi rebels claimed that they had taken control over Al Garshah and their fighters prepared to push towards Al Balaq hill, which is considered the main entrance to Marib from the south.

Their advance came as thousands of civilians were still stranded in valleys and heights of Al Jubah and Murad mountain in Southern Marib, some of them sleeping under trees, while some families stayed at home despite Houthi shelling.

"Many families decided not to flee their homes in the villages of Al Jubah and Murad mountain because they have either elderly or handicapped family members who find it difficult to walk,” Mustafa Ali, a citizen in southern Marib, said.

"Houthi rebels wreaked havoc in the areas they recently controlled in southern Marib. They cut the power supply and spread fear among the residents. People closed their shops and farmers abandoned their farms because they were relying on the electricity to irrigate them," Mr Ali said, referring to the need for power for water pumps.

Arab coalition jets launched more than 20 air strikes on Friday, hitting Houthi gatherings in Al Kasarah, western Marib.

“The intensive airstrikes destroyed two Houthi tanks and an ammunition cache," a pro-government military source told The National.

Updated: November 01, 2021, 1:01 PM