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70 dead as battle for Yemen’s Marib rages on three fronts

Fierce fighting for Yemen’s strategic Marib city has killed 70 pro-government and Houthi rebel fighters over the past 24 hours, with battles raging on three fronts, loyalist military officials says.

The Houthis have been trying to seize Marib, the capital of an oil-rich region and the government’s last significant pocket of territory in the north, since February.

Two officials from pro-government forces tell AFP that the rebels were mounting a concerted push that had left 26 loyalist soldiers dead as well as 44 from Houthi ranks. The rebels rarely disclose their losses.

The new toll adds to 53 killed on both sides in the previous 24 hours, according to loyalist military officials.

One of the officials say that the rebels “are launching simultaneous attacks” in the areas of Kassara and Al-Mashjah, northwest of the city, and Jabal Murad in the south.

“They have made progress on the Kassara and Al-Mashjah fronts, but they have been thwarted on the Jabal Murad front,” he tells AFP.

The other official said that warplanes from the Saudi-led military coalition, which entered the Yemen conflict to support the government in 2015, launched airstrikes that “destroyed 12 Houthi military vehicles, including four tanks and a cannon.”

However, the Saudi firepower does not seem to have halted the rebel offensive.

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