Saudi-led Coalition Advances in Key Oil-Rich Yemeni Province

  • Yemeni forces, backed by Saudi-led coalition retake Marib dams
  • Coalition aims to recapture Sana'a, capital, from rebels

Yemeni forces backed by a Saudi Arabia-led coalition recaptured several strategic sites from Houthi rebels in the oil-rich Marib province, a key battleground on the way to the capital Sana’a.

Government forces backed by tribal fighters, intensive airstrikes and mortar shelling seized two dams on Monday from the Shiite rebels and allied forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemeni Brigadier General Thiab al-Muradi said by phone. They advanced on other fronts as well, and took the hill of Humat al-Masariah, al-Muradi said.

Having lost the dams, Houthi forces are now unable to circle around and attack pro-government fighters from the southeast of Marib, according to Ahmed al-Anjaf, a tribal leader fighting the Houthis. He said by phone that control of Humat al-Masariah will help cut off rebel supply routes from Serwah and other areas.

Gaining full control of Marib is a key goal for the Saudi-led coalition as it moves north toward the capital after seizing the southern port city of Aden in July. The coalition began bombing Yemen, adjacent to some of the world’s busiest oil shipping routes, in March in an attempt to restore President Abdurabuh Mansur Hadi to power after the Houthis captured Sana’a, prompting him to flee.
 
The Marib Dam blocks the Wadi Adhanah in a valley in the Balaq Hills. It’s close to the ruins of the Great Dam of Marib, which is one of the grandest engineering marvels of the ancient world and was damaged in airstrikes in June condemned by UNESCO.

The United Nations says more than 2,200 civilians have been killed and 4,700 injured in violence since March, and that most of the casualties are being caused by airstrikes.

Coalition warplanes struck a wedding along the Red Sea coast in the southern Taiz province, killing 131 people, the Houthi-controlled Saba news agency said Monday. There was no immediate comment from the Saudi-led coalition.

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