ALEXANDRIA: The Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen held military funerals in Sanaa on Saturday for 11 of their fighters, including a senior commander, who were killed in battle.
Fighters carried the coffins of Brig. Hamer Yahiya Yahiya Al-Fakih, military chief of staff of the capital’s Hamdan district, and 10 others who died in clashes with troops or in Arab coalition airstrikes.
Al-Fakih and other Houthi leaders were killed in key contested areas in Marib, where the Houthis have mounted an offensive to capture the oil-rich city. A local military source told Arab News on Saturday that at least two other senior Houthi leaders had been killed in fighting in Marib in the past 48 hours.
Yemen’s Defense Ministry said the Houthis had escalated their attacks on troops in four provinces, with dozens of combatants dying on both sides.
Troops and allied tribesmen on Saturday pushed back a Houthi assault in the Al-Mashjah area, west of Marib, with the rebels forced into retreating. Many Houthis were killed or wounded and at least seven military vehicles were destroyed in the battle that lasted for several hours, the ministry said.
Other clashes broke out in Al-Kasara, west of Marib, where the Houthis failed to make gains despite their attacks, a military source said.
“We pushed back all of the militia’s waves and they could not move an inch on the ground,” the source told Arab News.
The army also shot down an explosives-rigged drone over a residential area north of Marib city.
In neighboring Al-Bayda, where the Houthis have made major advances in the past couple of weeks, fighting broke out in the Al-Zaher and Al-Souma districts as government troops sought to recapture areas from the group.
Fueled by their gains in Al-Bayda, the Houthis launched new attacks on troops in the southern provinces of Lahj and Shabwa for the first time in years.
Local military sources said a soldier from the Southern Transitional Council was killed in fighting with the Houthis between Al-Bayda and Lahj.
Similar clashes occurred on the borders of Al-Bayda and Shabwa provinces.
Three civilians, including two children, were injured on Saturday in the southern city of Taiz when a mortar shell fired by the Houthis exploded in a residential area.
Also in Taiz, a Houthi sniper shot a 65-year-old woman in the shoulder in the Maqbanah district.
During the last six years, the Houthis have surrounded Taiz, Yemen’s third-largest city, and intensified shelling of the city’s central area in an attempt to force government troops to surrender.