Pro-government forces continue slow advance in Yemen's Marib

Pro-government forces continue slow advance in Yemen's Marib
Pro-government forces, backed by Saudi-led coalition ground troops are aiming to retake the Yemeni capital Sanaa.
2 min read
15 September, 2015
Fighting is occurring near historical sites in Marib [De Agostini].
Yemeni pro-government forces, backed by the Saudi-led Arab coalition, advanced on Tuesday in a key province east of Sanaa on the third day of a major ground offensive against the Houthis, military sources said.

Troops allied to exiled President Abd-Rabbo Mansour Hadi's government began an all-out offensive Sunday against the Iran-allied Houthis in Marib province, aiming to retake the capital a year after it fell to the insurgents.

Supported by coalition air cover and ground forces, pro-Hadi fighters captured two strategic hills in the rebel stronghold of Sirwah, on the route to Sanaa, an officer said.

"We have pushed the Houthis out of these two hills and entered Al-Zor," a rebel position near Sirwah, Captain Zaid al-Qaisi of the Marib-based 14th Brigade told AFP.

"Coalition ground forces, mainly from the United Arab Emirates and also Saudi Arabia, are participating in the offensive," he said, adding that they have been clearing mines planted by the rebels.

The UAE had said its troops were taking part in the latest operations in Marib and announced on Monday the death of a second soldier.

Clashes also raged southwest of the Marib provincial capital, close to the historic site of the Marib Dam, military sources said.

Marib city is controlled by troops and tribes backing Hadi, but rebels control parts of the oil-rich province.

The coalition launched an air war on the Houthis, and allied troops loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, in March after they had advanced on the southern port city of Aden, where the president had taken refuge following his escape from the capital, which the Houthis seized last September.

Pro-Hadi fighters, backed by troops freshly trained and armed by Saudi Arabia, pushed the rebels out of Aden in July and have since recaptured four other southern provinces.

The United Nations says nearly 4,900 people have been killed and some 25,000 wounded since late March, while 21 million out of Yemen's population of 25 million have been affected by the conflict.