Houthi drone and missile strikes kill 8 in Marib
ADEN – At least eight people were killed as a result of missile and drone strikes launched by Iran-backed Houthis on the Yemeni city of Marib trying to seize the gas-rich region.
The attacks came despite the Saudi-led coalition announcement Thursday that it had stopped carrying out attacks there in order to pave the way for a peaceful settlement.
Minister Muammar al-Iryani wrote in a Twitter post that the Houthis fired two ballistic missiles and two armed drones and had hit a mosque, a commercial centre and a women’s correctional facility as well as ambulances rushing to the scene.
He put the initial death toll at eight, including women and said 27 people had been wounded. Two medical sources told Reuters the hospital received five killed and more than 15 injured.
An army spokesperson earlier told Al Hadath television that the missiles hit a residential area and a commercial market. He said the Houthis launched two drones but that one was downed and the other exploded in mid-air.
“These are the strongest explosions we have heard in Marib in four years” resident Abdulsalam Ghaleb told Reuters.
Earlier this month at least 17 people were killed in an explosion near a petrol station in Marib. The government blamed it on a Houthi missile.
“This (Thursday’s) dangerous escalation confirms the terrorist Houthi militia does not understand the language of dialogue and does not believe in peace,” Iryani said, referring to UN-led peace efforts.
There was no confirmation from the Iran-aligned Houthi movement, which has launched an offensive to take the internationally-recognised government’s last stronghold in the north of the Arabian Peninsula country. Houthis do not acknowledge attacks that cause civilian casualties.
Yemen has been mired in violence since the Houthis ousted the Saudi-backed government from the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014, prompting a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia to intervene months later.
The coalition said on Thursday it had destroyed a Houthi drone fired towards southern Saudi Arabia, state television reported, the most recent of frequent cross-border attacks.
The United Nations, backed by the United States, is pressing for a ceasefire and for the Houthis to end their offensive in Marib, which hosts around a million internally displaced people.
The conflict in the region is seen as part of Iran’s quest for destabilisation and dominance through Houthi proxies.