Scores Killed as Latest Houthi Advance Halted Short of Maarib

Houthis amass further gains west of the city

More than 60 fighters have been reported killed in the past 24 hours in intense combat to the west of the Yemeni city of Maarib, as the Houthis continue an offensive to try to take the city. Maarib is the last government-held city in the country’s north.

Despite the government spinning the latest fighting as a victory of sorts, the Houthis advanced deeply on the Mashjah front, taking four more areas. They were stopped just short of al-Tala’a al-Hamra, taking which would’ve been a huge victory for the rebels.

The Houthis are challenging on the Saudi coalition on three different fronts, with the northwest fronts both showing promise at times. Al-Tala’a al-Hamra, if it fell, would give the Houthis access to direct roads into Maarib itself. This would make defense of the city a much more complicated proposition.

Maarib’s value is largely symbolic as the last holding in historic Northern Yemen, as despite claims of it being an “oil and gas” city it is largely as poor as the rest of the country, and houses a large refugee population displaced from the rest of the country.

Hope to establish a new round of peace talks has been on hold pending the resolution of Maarib fighting. Both sides were hoping that a victory there would give them some momentum at the talks and allow them to push for more in the talks.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.