A Yemeni military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Arabic service of Russia’s Sputnik news agency that Yemeni soldiers and their allies had encircled Ma’rib city, following weeks of fierce clashes with Saudi-led coalition forces and their mercenaries.
The source added that Yemeni forces had cut off the main supply route into the eastern flank of Ma’rib, which leads to the Arab country’s largest province of Hadhramaut.
“After gaining complete control over all the heights overlooking the city of Ma’rib from all directions, mopping up operations to clear the last remaining pockets of al-Qaeda elements and mercenaries of the aggressors (Saudi-led coalition) are only a matter of time,” he pointed out.
‘Qaeda-affiliated Salafist Islah Party transferring militants to Ma’rib’
Meanwhile, the governor of Yemen’s southern province of Aden has warned that the al-Qaeda-affiliated Salafist Islah Party is transferring Takfiri militants from southern areas to Ma’rib to join the ranks of Saudi-led coalition forces and Hadi loyalists in battles against Yemeni soldiers and their allies.
“The Islah Party, which is on the verge of collapse in Ma’rib, is brining Takfiri militants from several regions, mostly from southern provinces under the occupation of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), into Ma’rib,” Tariq Salem told Yemen’s official Saba news agency.
He stressed the need to confront the deployment of such terrorists, who are seeking to carry out target killings and criminal schemes in Ma’rib in the face of the anticipated triumph of Yemeni armed forces and their allies.
“What people in the southern [Yemeni] provinces are enduring is the result of continued [Saudi-UAE] occupation and the influx of Takfiri militants. It is highly worth taking into consideration that no Yemeni citizen, either in Ma’rib or elsewhere in the country, must subject their families, their properties as well as public interests to danger,” Salem pointed out.
Pro-Hadi battalion defects to Yemeni army: Reports
Furthermore, Yemeni media reports say an entire battalion loyal to former Riyadh-backed president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi has defected to the Yemeni army and allied fighters from Popular Committees.
Over the past few weeks, Ma’rib has been the scene of large-scale operations by the Yemeni troops and allied Popular Committees fighters, who are pushing against Saudi-backed Hadi supporters.
The Daesh Takfiri terrorist group said last week that it had carried out operations against the Yemeni armed forces in the province, killing and wounding a number of them in the process.
Saudi-led forces violate Hudaydah truce 148 times in 24 hours
Separately, an unnamed source in Yemen’s Liaison and Coordination Officers Operations Room said that during the past 24 hours, forces of the Saudi-led military coalition and their mercenaries have breached 148 times an agreement reached between the warring sides during a round of UN-sponsored peace negotiations in Sweden in December 2018.
The source at the monitor added that the violations in the western coastal province of Hudaydah included formation of fortification lines near 50th Street, al-Jabaliya and al-Mandhar neighborhoods, a dozen reconnaissance flights over Hays, al-Durayhimi and al-Tuhayat districts, 35 counts of artillery and mortar shelling, as well as 95 shooting incidents in various regions.
The Sweden deal included three provisions: a ceasefire along the Hudaydah front and the redeployment of armed forces out of the city and its port; an agreement on prisoner exchange; and a statement of understanding on the southern Yemeni city of Ta’izz.
UN: Some 400,000 Yemeni children under 5 severely malnourished
Meanwhile, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, has warned that some 400,000 Yemeni children under the age of five are so severely malnourished that they are in “their last weeks and months.”
“We are running out of time,” Lowcock said, noting that more than 16 million people are going hungry across Yemen, five million of whom are “just one step away from famine.”
Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched the war on Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of ex-president Hadi, back to power and crushing the popular Ansarullah movement.
According to the United Nations, 80 percent of Yemen’s 30 million people need some form of aid or protection. About 13.5 million Yemenis currently face acute food insecurity, UN data shows.
According to the latest figures released by the UN in December last year, over 230,000 people have been killed since the onset of the Saudi-led war.
Yemeni armed forces and allied popular groups, led by the Houthi Ansarullah movement, have gone from strength to strength against the Saudi-led invaders, and successfully defended Yemen against the aggression, leaving Riyadh and its allies bogged down in the country.