Fighting in the western province of Marib has intensified over the past two weeks as Shiite Houthi rebels advance through the volatile heartland of Yemen’s beleaguered and impoverished state. The rebels are now just 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Marib’s provincial capital of Saada.
The Iran-aligned Houthis captured the city of al-Jawf on Saturday when they launched mortars at the mansion of a prominent tribal leader. The Houthis also battled their way into the districts of Imam al-Hassan in the central Abbudah province, where Yemen’s biggest oil field is located, and the town of Radfae, according to the country’s Defense Ministry. An unnamed Yemeni military official said that the Houthis had captured 15 Yemeni soldiers.
A resident of Saada told The New York Times that the city was rocked by fierce gunbattles. Security forces were deployed at strategic locations and against the advancing rebels. One market was reportedly set ablaze by angry civilians as Houthi rebels fired rockets. Local tribesman took to social media to document the battles, mocking the ability of the country’s wilayat, the autonomous rural provinces.
In southern Yemen, the Houthis also took control of a historic fishing port, the Al Khram Island, in Maarib province.
The country, which the U.N. estimates has been devastated by war, is dependent on billions of dollars in oil reserves located in Marib, which generate around 40 percent of its exports. The city is also home to the major Marib oil field and is part of the province’s coast on the Red Sea, known as one of the most important oil ports in the Middle East.
Read the full story at The New York Times.
The Houthis seize a major oil terminal in Yemen, a major hub for international oil companies