Heavy fighting was reported today in the Maarib Province, due east of the Yemeni capital city of Sanaa, where pro-Saudi forces attempted to advance deeper into territory held by the Shi’ite Houthis. Saudi airstrikes were reported during the fighting.
At least 26 combatants were killed, according to the reports, with pro-Saudi officials claiming 10 of their soldiers and 16 of the Houthis were killed. Several dozen others were wounded in the fighting and the airstrikes, and the pro-Saudi forces claimed to have seized several hilltops.
Maarib is one of several fronts on which the pro-Saudi forces have attempted to advance to get a route opened that would allow them to attack the capital city, but as with other attempts around Taiz, the offensives have been very slow going, with a lot of give and take, and no easy victories.
Maarib is also considered valuable as the primary oil-producing region in Yemen, though in practice Yemen’s oil production is fairly minimal, and often interrupted by tribal unrest.
Saudi Arabia attacked Yemen in March of 2015, vowing to remove the Houthis from power and reinstall former President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Hadi was president from 2012 until January of 2015, when he resigned, and while he was never properly elected and was only ever meant to serve a two-year term, the Saudis insist he is still the country’s rightful ruler.