Riyadh, Oct 12: More than 130 Yemeni rebels have been killed in strikes south of Marib, the Saudi-led coalition said Tuesday, but the insurgents seized a district 25 kilometres (16 miles) south of the strategic city, according to military sources.
Hundreds of Huthi rebels and government loyalists have died since fighting for Marib flared anew last month following a push in February.
Marib city is the internationally recognised government’s last bastion in oil-rich northern Yemen.
Dozens of new strikes were carried out in the Abdiya district of Marib province, after the coalition said air raids the day before killed more than 150 rebels.
“We targeted nine military vehicles of the Huthi militia in Abdiya, and their losses exceeded 134 members,” said a coalition statement carried by official Saudi media.
The rebels rarely announce casualties in their own ranks.
Despite the air campaign the Huthis “are on the edges of the city of Marib from several sides after defeating traitors and mercenaries… from several districts in Marib and liberating them completely,” their spokesman Yahya Saree said in a video statement on Tuesday.
According to military sources, the rebels seized Al-Jawbah district in southern Marib province.
Pro-government troops withdrew from their posts in Al-Jawbah after heavy clashes with the insurgents, they told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Residents of the area confirmed the Huthis had entered the district, saying they were advancing “swiftly”.
Yemen has been devastated by a seven-year war pitting the Shiite rebels against the government.
The rebels overran the national capital Sanaa, just 120 kilometres to the west of Marib, in 2014.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions have been displaced since then. Many fled to Marib, and its population has ballooned since the war began.