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Fighting in Yemen’s Marib kills 90 in 24 hours, sources from gov’t military claim

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Forces loyal to Yemen's Saudi-backed government clash with Huthi rebel fighters about 50 kilometres northwest of Marib this week. AFP

Fighting in Yemen’s Marib kills 90 in 24 hours, sources from gov’t military claim

Fierce fighting between Yemeni pro-government forces and Iran-backed Huthi rebels has killed at least 90 combatants on both sides in the past 24 hours, government military sources said on March 6.

The Shiite rebels launched an offensive last month to seize Marib, the last stronghold in northern Yemen of pro-government forces who are backed by a Saudi-led military coalition.

The clashes in the oil-rich province left 32 dead among government forces and loyalist tribes, while 58 Huthi rebels were killed in coalition air strikes, the sources said.

They said heavy clashes broke out on six fronts as government forces were able to counter attacks by the Huthis who managed to advance only on the Kassara front northwest of Marib city.

The fighting also left dozens of people wounded, the sources added.

The loss of Marib would be a huge blow for the Yemeni government, but would also threaten catastrophe for civilians, including hundreds of thousands of displaced people sheltering in desolate camps in the surrounding desert.

It would also be a major setback for Saudi Arabia, which has been the target of increasingly frequent Huthi missile attacks in recent weeks.

Shrapnel from Huthi drones intercepted by the Saudis on March 5 wounded two civilians, including a 10-year-old, in the southwest of the kingdom, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on March 1 urged the Huthis to halt their offensive in Marib, as he announced $191 million in aid at a donors’ conference.

“Aid alone will not end the conflict. We can only end the humanitarian crisis in Yemen by ending the war . . . so the United States is reinvigorating our diplomatic efforts to end the war,” he said.

The UN had sought to raise $3.85 billion from more than 100 governments and donors, but only $1.7 billion was offered.

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