Yemen: Houthi rebels and government attack key city of Marib

Written by Staff Writer at CNN, Writing by Waheed Al-Aqrami.

Yemen’s key city of Marib has been battered by fierce fighting between government troops and Houthi rebels who have been advancing on the city from the east and south for over a week.

They both reported that they are now within reach of the city center, with al-Masirah TV, an al Qaeda affiliate, also citing government sources as saying that “terrorists” were shelling Marib.

Marib, which is home to the oil refinery in the east of the country, is also home to the small town of Rajwa, which lies at the end of a narrow, winding mountain road.

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The battle for the city is expected to create difficulties for Zaydi Shiite Houthi rebels, who capture it from the government, and with the loss of Rajwa their troops would be on the road back to their stronghold in the capital Sanaa, just 60 kilometers away.

An earlier blast in Marib, which killed three people, is also likely to have led to the loss of lives among the Saudi-led coalition that is currently bombing the rebels.

Saleh Hawas, a local defense official, told the BBC that the Saudi-led coalition had missed their early targets.

“By failing to hit all the tanks and troops as planned, the coalition has put military forces in harm’s way,” he said.

Troops fighting for the government have also suffered losses. The number of fatalities is expected to rise, with state media reporting that dozens of soldiers had been killed.

More than 10,000 people have been killed in the war in Yemen since March 2015, when the Houthis, forces allied with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, took over the capital Sanaa and forced the internationally-recognized government to flee.

Fighting also rages across the country’s south, with Saudi-led coalition forces and other factions battling for control of Saada, the base of the Iranian-backed Houthi rebel movement.

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