Missile strike on Yemen military base in Marib kills 80

Missile strike on Yemen military base in Marib kills 80
Hospitals in the city issued an urgent call for blood donors for the injured, as the death toll from Saturday's strike rose to 80.
3 min read
19 January, 2020
The toll in Marib is one of the bloodiest single attacks since 2014 [Getty]
The death toll from a missile attack blamed on Yemen's Houthi rebels on a mosque in a military base in the city of Marib, rose to at least 80 on Sunday, local military and medical sources said.

The government said Iran-backed Houthi rebels fired missiles which struck a mosque inside a military base hosting new recruits, following evening prayers on Saturday evening.

Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi condmened the killings in a conversation with the governor of Marib, according to SABA news agency.

"This is a cowardly, deplorable terrorist act. Houthi rebels seeks nothing other than death and destruction," Hadi said.

"The disgraceful actions of the Houthi militia without doubt confirm its unwillingness to (achieve) peace, because it...is a cheap Iranian tool in the region," Hadi added.

Hospitals in the city issued an emergency call for blood donations to assist the wounded, estimated at over 150 soldiers. 

Details surrounding the attack remain unclear and the rebel group have yet to make any claim of responsibillity.

However, sources who spoke to Saudi-owned Alarabiya desribed it as a combined drone and ballistic missile attack, notng it bares hallmarks of a Houthi-style operation.

On the other hand, a senior official from the press office of Yemen's national army claimed that rockets were launched from within a Houthi stronghold only 20km east of Marib. 

The strike marks a major escalation after months of relative calm between the Houthis and Yemen's internationally recognised government, backed by a powerful Saudi-led military coalition.

On Friday, coalition backed government forces launched a large-scale operation against the Iran-alligned militia in the Nihm region, north of Sanaa.

Read also: Yemen in Focus: Cable damage wipes out 80% of country's internet connectivity 

The fighting has resulted in the deaths and injuries of dozens as of Sunday, according to sources who spoke to SABA news agency.

The latest uptick in violence comes just as United Nations envoy Martin Griffiths had remarked positively on the significant reduction in air strikes and mobilisation of ground forces, in a UN Security Council briefing on Thursday.

"We are surely, and I hope this is true and I hope it will remain so, witnessing one of the quietest periods of this conflict,"

"Experience however tells us that military de-escalation cannot be sustained without political progress between the parties, and this has become the next challenge."

The heavy fighting that had plagued the key Red Sea port city of Hodeida subsided after Yemen's warring factions signed a landmark UN-brokered agreement in December 2018, yet its slow implementation has dimmed prospects of an end to the five-year conflict.

The war has brought about the world's worst humanitarian crisis, according to the UN, who estimate tens of thousands of people have been killed, while the country has been pushed to the brink of famine. 
Ramesh Rajasingham, who responsible for coordinating humanitarian aid in Yemen warned of the grave threat posed by famine, amid a recent plunge in the value of national currency.

"With a rapidly depreciating rial and disrupted salary payments, we are again seeing some of the key conditions that brought Yemen to the brink of famine a year ago," he said at Thursday's UN security council meeting.

"We must not let that happen again," he added.

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