Saudi-led coalition says it has killed more than 260 Yemeni rebels

Spokesman for Iran-backed Houthis says the bombings will not stop them

Houthi fighters ride on the back of a truck as clashes with forces loyal to Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh continue in Sanaa, Yemen December 4, 2017. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen on Sunday said its air strikes had killed more than 260 Houthis in the past three days, but a rebel spokesman said the bombing campaign would not stop them.

The deaths are the latest among about 1,600 rebels the coalition claims it has killed in strikes over the past two weeks around Marib, the government's last bastion in northern Yemen.

The strikes are the most recent in an almost seven-year coalition military campaign to support Yemen's internationally recognised government against the Houthis.

"Thirty-six military vehicles were destroyed and more than 264" rebel fighters were killed in the past 72 hours, the coalition told the official Saudi Press Agency.

The strikes were carried out in Al Jawba, about 50 kilometres south of Marib, and Al Kassara, 30km to the north-west.

"If the enemy thought that their warplanes could limit the progress of our forces or break the determination of our soldiers, they are mistaken," Houthi spokesman Yahya Saree said on the rebels' Al Masirah TV channel.

He claimed without verification that during an operation the rebels had killed 550 pro-government fighters, wounded 1,200 and taken 90 prisoners, without specifying a time frame.

The coalition has for the past two weeks conducted almost daily air strikes around Marib.

The Houthis began a major push to seize Marib in February, and have renewed their offensive since September after a lull.

The Yemeni civil war began in 2014 when the Houthis seized the capital Sanaa, 120 kilometres west of Marib, prompting Saudi-led forces to intervene after a government request the following year.

Tens of thousands of people have died and millions have been displaced in the war, which the UN describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The UN Security Council on Wednesday called for "de-escalation" in Yemen, in a unanimously adopted statement to counter the risk of "large-scale famine" in the country.

The 15 council members demanded an immediate nationwide ceasefire, and sought an end to the Houthis' Marib escalation.

"The members of the Security Council expressed grave concern for the dire humanitarian situation, including prolonged starvation and the growing risk of large-scale famine," the council said.

They also "condemned the recruitment and use of children, and sexual violence, in conflict".

The UN children's agency Unicef last week said that seven years of conflict in Yemen had killed or wounded at least 10,000 children.

The figure only included child victims whose fates were known to the organisation, and there were many others, Unicef spokesman James Elder said in Geneva.

"The war must come to an end," Mr Elder said.

Updated: October 24th 2021, 8:30 PM