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Yemen war: Senior military commander killed during fighting for Marib

Nasser al-Zubiani's death during fighting seen as big blow to Saudi-backed government as it staves off Houthi assault on strategic city
Yemeni pro-government fighters man their position during fighting with Houthi rebels on the al-Jawba frontline south of Marib on 7 December 2021.
Yemeni pro-government fighters man their position during fighting with Houthi rebels on al-Jawba frontline south of Marib on 7 December 2021 (AFP)

A senior Yemeni military commander was killed during fighting between government forces and Houthi rebels for the strategic city of Marib, the defence ministry told AFP on Monday.

The ministry announced the "martyrdom of head of the government forces' military operations, Nasser al-Zubiani, who died in the line of duty while leading battles against the Iran-aligned Houthi militia on the outskirts of Marib", according to Yemen’s official Saba news agency. 

A defence ministry source had earlier told AFP that Zubiani was among 28 troops killed in clashes with the Houthis in the past 24 hours. 

Government forces and Houthi rebels have been locked for months in a fierce battle for the strategic city of Marib, the government's last stronghold and capital of the northern oil-rich province of the same name.  

Fighting has escalated in recent weeks, with thousands killed from both sides as a Saudi-led military coalition backing the government increases air strikes on the rebels.

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The rebels began a major push to seize Marib city in February and after a lull they renewed their offensive in September.

The Saudi-led coalition has been reporting high death tolls in almost daily strikes against the Houthis since October.

Yemen has been rocked by conflict since 2014, when Houthi fighters seized the capital city of Sanaa. A Saudi military-led coalition intervened the following year on the side of the internationally recognised government to push back the Houthis. 

According to the UN, the fighting has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Millions of civilians have been displaced and more than 80 percent of the population of around 30 million require humanitarian assistance.

A UN Development Programme report last month said the war will have claimed 377,000 lives by the end of the year, through both direct and indirect impacts.

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