Yemen: at least 90 killed in 24 hours of fighting in Marib province

Houthi rebels launched an offensive in February to seize last government stronghold in northern Yemen

People gather by the grave of Brigadier General Abdul-Ghani Shaalan, Commander of the Special Security Forces in Marib who was killed in recent fighting with Houthi fighters in Marib, Yemen February 28, 2021. REUTERS/Ali Owidha
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Fierce fighting between Yemeni pro-government forces and Iran-backed Houthi rebels has killed at least 90 combatants on both sides in the past 24 hours, government military sources said on Saturday.

The rebels launched an offensive last month to seize Marib, the last stronghold in northern Yemen of pro-government forces who are backed by a Saudi-led military coalition.

The clashes in the oil-rich province left 32 dead among government forces and loyalist tribes, while 58 Houthi rebels were killed in coalition air strikes, the sources told AFP.

They said heavy clashes broke out on six fronts, as government forces were able to resist attacks by the Houthis, who managed to advance only on the Kassara front, north-west of Marib city.

The fighting also left dozens of people wounded, the sources said.

The loss of Marib would be a blow for the Yemeni government, but would also threaten catastrophe for civilians, including hundreds of thousands of displaced people sheltering in camps in the surrounding desert.

It would also be a setback for Saudi Arabia, which has been the target of increasingly frequent Houthi drone and missile attacks in recent weeks.

Shrapnel from Houthi drones intercepted by the Saudis on Friday wounded two civilians, including a 10-year-old, in the south-west of the kingdom, the official SPA news agency reported.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged the Houthis to halt their offensive in Marib, as he announced $191 million in aid at a donors' conference on Monday.

"Aid alone will not end the conflict. We can only end the humanitarian crisis in Yemen by ending the war … so the United States is reinvigorating our diplomatic efforts to end the war," he said.

The UN had sought to raise $3.85 billion from more than 100 governments and donors, but only $1.7 billion was offered.