SANA’A (Dispatches) – Yemeni forces are closing in on the strategic central city of Ma’rib for a key battle against Saudi-led militants loyal to former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and their terrorist allies.
Local media outlets reported that the Yemeni forces are now only seven kilometers from Ma’rib, the last stronghold of pro-Hadi forces in northern Yemen, the loss of which would mean the defeat of the Saudi-backed regime.
Over the past few weeks, Ma’rib has been the scene of large-scale operations by Yemeni troops and allied Popular Committees fighters, who are pushing against Saudi-sponsored pro-Hadi militants.
A Yemeni military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said armed units fighting around Ma’rib have tightened the noose around the Saudi-led forces and continue to gain ground.
Medical sources said scores of militants were killed and injured during clashes on Friday. Hadi sources confirmed that 32 of their fighters had been killed in fighting around Ma’rib governorate over a single day.
Reports said Moin al-Wali, a commander of the al-Saqour (Falcons) brigade, was killed. Colonel Abdullah Mohammed al-Hamza, a pro-Hadi commander on the al-Kassara front, was also among the casualties.
Lebanon-based al-Mayadeen television said Yemeni forces had liberated several strategic heights in the northwest of the province after intense fighting.
They wrested control of Hama Dhiab and al-Nadhoud hills from the Saudi-led forces, which include Hadi loyalists and militants affiliated with the Salafist Islah party.
In another development, Yemen’s Ansarullah movement, also known as the Houthis, downed a Saudi Air Force Karayel reconnaissance plane, built by Turkey, the movement’s Al-Masirah TV channel said Sunday.
The Yemeni Foreign Ministry called on the UN and other international organizations to take a rational approach to the ongoing battle in Ma’rib province.
In a statement carried by Yemen’s official Saba news agency on Saturday, the Yemeni ministry said the UN and international statements regarding the issue generally "lack a minimum of logic” and are not based on any understandable standards.
It expressed deep regret over such a biased approach regarding the issue of peace in Yemen.
The Yemeni Foreign Ministry noted that the UN and international statements and other political and media positions wrongfully question the Sana’a government’s desire for peace and ignore its "natural and legitimate right to self-defense.”
According to the ministry, the Saudi-led coalition of war on Yemen established the Ma’rib front in order to invade the capital, Sana’a, and it remained the starting point for all terrorist operations against Sana’a.
On Thursday, the UN chief’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric voiced ‘deep concerns’ by the "recent reports of increased Houthi [Ansarullah] cross-border attacks against Saudi Arabia.”
Yemeni army troops and allied fighters from Popular Committees have launched numerous retaliatory missile attacks against Saudi positions and targets, including the kingdom’s oil facilities, in response to the Riyadh regime’s acts of aggression and military campaign against their country.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched the war on Yemen in March 2015 with the goal of bringing the former Riyadh-friendly regime back to power.
Nearly six years later, however, the goal still remains as elusive as ever, with tens of thousands of people killed, much of Yemen’s infrastructure destroyed and horrifying outbreaks of cholera and hunger bordering on famine underway.