Officials: 200 fighters killed in clashes in central Yemen

International

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — At least 200 fighters were killed in clashes between Yemen’s government forces and Houthi rebels in and around the strategic central province of Marib over the last two days, security officials from both sides said Thursday.

Most of the casualties belonged to the Houthi forces, who have recently wrestled from their rivals most of Marib’s 14 districts, according to the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

They added that hundreds were wounded in the same clashes.

The Houthis have for years attempted to take oil-rich Marib to complete their control over the northern half of Yemen. The Iran-backed Shiite Houthis have stepped up their push in the oil-rich province in recent weeks, while also escalating cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia. The kingdom is leading a military coalition that has been fighting on the government side against the Houthis.

In recent days, Houthis have been advancing towards the capital of the province, which is also named Marib. As of Thursday, the rebels were stationed in the district of Sirwah, less than 30 miles (about 48 kilometers) west of the city of Marib, said the officials.

Yemen has been convulsed by civil war since 2014 when the Houthis captured the capital, Sanaa, and much of the north of the country, forcing the internationally recognized government to flee to the south, then to Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi-led coalition entered the war in March 2015, backed by the United States, to try restore the government to power. Despite a relentless air campaign and ground fighting, the war has deteriorated largely into a stalemate and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Also on Thursday, Saudi-owned Al-Hadath television quoted the Saudi-led military coalition as saying that their troops have carried out 25 military attacks on Houhi outposts in Al-Jawf province and Marib’s western district of Sirwah over the past 24 hours. The channel reported that 115 Houthis were killed in the attacks.

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