Yemen: Saudis launch new strikes on Marib

Yemen’s third largest city, Marib, is in the opposition hands

Marib province in Yemen’s third largest city has come under a renewed offensive by forces loyal to the country’s former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Marib is held by the Saudi-backed government, but Houthi forces from northern Yemen have been pushing towards it.

Marib is an important energy-producing province, exporting oil and natural gas.

The Houthis have been driven from the capital, Sanaa, after a three-year war with Saudi Arabia-backed forces.

Saudi Arabia and its allies launched air strikes on Sanaa in 2015, driving the Houthis out of the capital.

Houthi-controlled areas remain controlled by fighters aligned to Saleh, a former ally of the Houthis who is considered a bitter enemy by the Houthis.

Marib governor, Khaled Al-Ahma, told Al Jazeera from the southern port city of Aden that Saudi-led coalition forces had opened their military operations on Monday.

“This is a new offensive on Marib by the Arab coalition,” he said.

Although Marib shares a long border with northern Yemen, it has been held by the Saudi-backed government since 2016.

Further north, the Houthis are fighting southern separatists and continue to occupy areas in the Red Sea port city of Hodeida.

An alliance of Saudi Arabia and its allies began their military campaign in Yemen in 2015 against Houthi forces aligned with former president Saleh, whom Riyadh’s allies view as a terrorist organisation.

Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab world, and currently faces the world’s most acute humanitarian crisis.

Poverty is widespread and at the same time nearly half of Yemen’s population is estimated to be suffering from malnutrition, a number that has increased.

The UN says the civil war has left about 10,000 people dead and caused the country to become a major transit point for migrants and refugees who have fled war in Africa.

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