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115 Yemeni rebels killed in airstrikes

115 Yemeni rebels killed in airstrikes

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RIYADH: The Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen said on Thursday it had killed 115 Huthi rebels in 24 hours in air raids near Marib, the final northern stronghold of pro-government forces, reports AFP.

The coalition, which backs Yemen's internationally recognised government, has reported near-daily strikes over the past three weeks that it claims have now resulted in some 2,600 deaths among the Iran-backed Huthi rebels.

But the insurgents, who have for months waged an offensive against the government stronghold, rarely comment on losses, and AFP cannot independently verify the tolls. "Fourteen military vehicles have been destroyed and 115" insurgents killed in the latest 24 hours, the Saudi-led coalition said in a statement published by Saudi Arabia's official SPA press agency.

The rebels were killed in raids in the Sirwah district, west of Marib city, and Al-Jawf province, north of it, SPA added. On Wednesday evening, the coalition posted video footage on Twitter of what claimed to be raids.

The Huthis began a major push to seize the city in February and, after a lull, they renewed their offensive in September.

A pro-government military official had told AFP on Tuesday that the rebels have made "new advances amid ongoing clashes with pro-government troops", and the Huthis said they were on the outskirts of the city.

On Wednesday, the rebels attacked telecommunication towers in Marib with a ballistic missile "which led to the interruption of communications services in many areas", according to a government military official.

The attack aimed to "cut communication between the... army and the tribes" that are fighting alongside the pro-government forces, in order to "accelerate the collapse of the fronts surrounding the city of Marib", he added.

Yemen's civil war began in 2014 when the Huthis seized the capital Sanaa, prompting Saudi-led forces to intervene to prop up the government the following year.

Tens of thousands of people have died and millions have been displaced in what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.