Abu Dhabi: Government sources said that more than 60 fighter jets were killed in a clash between Iran-backed Houth rebels and government forces in the northern strategic province of Malibu in the clash in Yemen on Friday.
Earlier this month, the Huthis resumed their attack on the city of Malibu, 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of the capital Sanaa controlled by the occupying rebels.
This city is close to some of Yemen’s richest oil fields, and its occupation will be the main prize for the rebels.
Friday s dead included at least 27 pro-government forces and 34 Huthi rebels, a government source told AFP, adding it was the “most violent” day of clashes since fighting erupted on February 8.
The rebels moved into hills near a dam southwest of Marib city — the last major toehold in the north for Yemen s Saudi-backed government — with the area witnessing “the fiercest battles”, according to the source.
A military source said that pro-government forces repelled the Huthi advances and reported heavy fighting that lasted “more than eight hours” in the Ablah region, south of Marib city.
There was loss of life on both sides, the military source added, without providing further details.
Yemeni military sources said air strikes targeted Huthi positions in several parts of the province.
The Huthi-run Al-Masirah TV channel reported 21 air strikes in different areas.
Since 2014, Yemen has been embroiled in a bloody power struggle between the Saudi Arabia-backed government and the Hussite rebels that control much of the north.
According to international organizations, this fierce conflict has claimed the lives of tens of thousands and displaced millions of people, triggering what the United Nations calls the world’s most serious humanitarian crisis.
Soon after Washington decided to remove the rebels from its list of terrorist organizations to ensure unhindered assistance and pave the way for the resumption of peace talks, the violence that broke out this month has already occurred.
Observers say that Huthis wants to seize Malibu as a lever before any negotiations.
The United Nations warned that if the fighting continued for Marib, there would be a potential humanitarian disaster, saying that this has put “millions of civilians at risk.”
Until early last year, life in Marib was relatively peaceful despite the civil war.
But as the front lines shift, and air raids by Saudi Arabia and its allies pound the area, there is new peril for civilians, with hundreds of thousands sheltering in camps in the surrounding desert that extends to the Saudi border.
Loyalist military officials told AFP earlier this month that the rebels had been using residents of one camp in the province s Sirwah district as “human shields”.
Despite the heavy losses on both sides, the fighting showed no signs of easing.