Houthis accuse Yemen government forces of fighting alongside IS in Marib

Houthis accuse Yemen government forces of fighting alongside IS in Marib
It is not the first time the Houthis have claimed they are fighting against IS and Al Qaeda, alongside the Yemeni government.
2 min read
19 February, 2021
The Houthis have faced recent setbacks in their offensive on Marib [Getty]
Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels on Thursday accused army forces loyal to the internationally-recognized Yemeni government of fighting alongside the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in the war-ravaged Marib governorate.

Houthi media circulated a statement attributed to IS, allegedly showing that the group was involved in the fighting on the Al-Kasra front in western Al-Marib province.

The Houthis have suffered heavy losses in this area in recent days, after trying and failing to take control of it.

IS has not confirmed the Houthis' allegation. This is also not the first time the Houthis have claimed they are fighting IS and al-Qaeda, alongside government forces.

An official statement from the Houthis said the report "indicates the extent of the link between the criminal alliance and criminal IS," referring to the Saudi-Emirati coalition.

The Political Bureau of the Houthis rejected international calls to end the battle for Marib, describing them as "an international cover for the continuation of the aggression and siege and the continued support of takfiri groups engaged militarily with the invaders and occupiers, as announced by IS," according to the Houthi-controlled Saba News Agency.

Takfiri is a term used by Iran and its allies to refer to Sunni jihadists.

The Houthis added that they "will not stand idly by, and they have every right and legitimacy to continue the battle for liberation and confront those who have no goal but to keep Yemen hostage to chaos and foreign interference," according to the statement.

Pro-government activists rejected the Houthi allegations.

"When the Houthis' plans to take Marib failed, they issued a statement on behalf of IS to gain local sympathy, and the Western world knew that IS was in Houthi-controlled areas according to international intelligence reports," activist Nayef Ta'iman wrote in a tweet.

There have been previous reports of extremist factions fighting alongside the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. Associated Press reported in 2018 that Al Qaeda fighters were recruited to fight the Houthis alongside the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

The Houthis renewed their offensive on government-held Marib province earlier this month, seeking to consolidate their control over northern Yemen.

UK Ambassador to Yemen Michael Aron this week said the Houthis are trying to achieve gains in Marib before agreeing to a ceasefire.

Al Sharq al Awsat quoted Aron as saying the Houthis "are trying to make progress ahead of the peace efforts of the international community. They are intimidated by the ceasefire and want to achieve gains on the ground before adhering to it. Undoubtedly, this is a very bad thing and we do not need that."

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