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Yemen’s Houthi forces have advanced towards Marib, the largest city in oil-rich Maarib province, and are launching ballistic missiles across the border into Saudi Arabia, residents have reported.
Tahrir News, a Sana’a-based activist news website, said Houthi rebels were advancing on the city, about 100 miles (160km) east of Sana’a.
Emil Sadeq, the head of the Houthi rebel council for the Maarib area, told Maarib News the rebels had taken the town of Harem, 60 miles south of Marib.
Yemen’s war has killed more than 10,000 people, a UN report says Read more
Marib is the province where the Saudi Arabian oil giant Aramco operates two natural gas plants in a production area with an area of 10,000 sq km. The Maarib fields account for at least a quarter of the country’s gas output, and the fields and an export terminal also produce 50,000 barrels of oil a day.
Yemen’s neighbouring countries are still in heated talks aimed at reunifying the country after its war, which began in 2014 when Houthi rebels ousted Yemen’s president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
A senior Saudi official said on Monday that President Hadi – whose government is not recognised by most countries – had not withdrawn as president, defying a UN resolution calling for Hadi to stand down.
The Houthis began carrying out air strikes in the north of the country from Houthi-controlled territory late last year, responding to Saudi-led coalition air strikes on Houthi positions and civilians in northern and western regions of Yemen.
The Houthis’ latest missile test followed the assassination last week of the rebel movement’s military chief, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, by an undercover airstrike.
Houthi sources said the missile launched on Sunday was fired towards Makkah city in Saudi Arabia.
Yemenis took to the streets in southern Yemen after the missile was fired. They said they would retaliate against Saudi Arabia’s “aggression”.
Al-Houthi’s brother-in-law, Mohammed Saleh al-Houthi, later said they had shot down the missile, suggesting that Sana’a did not lose the launch.
The coalition has launched daily military raids against the Houthis in Maarib in response to the missile tests.
The Houthis have been fighting a Saudi-led coalition since 2015, accusing them of executing a coup against Hadi and destroying the nation.
The coalition drove the Houthis from the capital Sana’a in early 2016, but the conflict has not been resolved and the Houthis still control much of the north and west of the country.
The six-month war in Yemen has killed more than 10,000 people and displaced millions.