Written by Staff Writer by Cairo Eddine Farid, CNN
Yemen’s Houthi rebels are advancing into the energy-rich governorate of Marib, raising concern of further fighting between the group and government forces.
The rebels are reported to have captured strategic towns in south Marib, where almost a million people live, near the capital Sanaa. The province has provided a vital source of income for the government of President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi.
In a statement, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged all sides to suspend military operations in order to protect civilians.
Sanaa has been held by the Iranian-backed Houthis since 2014, when they took control of much of northern Yemen. In April the rebel group, who have close ties to Iran, and the Saudi-led coalition battling them in Yemen’s civil war reached a deal for a humanitarian truce in the divided capital, which lasted from June 1 to June 8.
Despite the cessation of hostilities, fighting has continued.
“The secretary-general is concerned by the reports that Houthi militias are advancing on the outskirts of several areas that will place over 800,000 people at risk of further displacement and a humanitarian catastrophe,” said Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
“This is especially the case if fighting further impacts roads between the western and eastern edges of Sanaa.”
US officials said that U.S. special operations forces were involved in the capture of a Houthi commander in May in Marib.
Guterres’ spokesman also expressed concern over a planned visit by a Saudi-led delegation to Yemen that is expected to take place on August 15, amid concerns that it could further push the Yemenis toward reconciliation talks.
Militants gather in south Marib, Yemen, Aug. 12, 2018. The Iranian-backed Houthi rebels are reported to have captured strategic towns in the governorate. Credit: Yamen Darwish/AFP/Getty Images