SANAA, Dec 6 (Reuters) – Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis held military funerals on Monday for 25 fighters killed in battles with a Saudi-led coalition, as fighting shows no sign of abating despite intense international diplomacy to end the seven-year-old conflict.
The funerals took place as fighting has raged in the gas-rich Marib region, while warplanes from the coalition have intensified their bombing of Sanaa, Marib and other areas.
The Houthis have also stepped up cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia using armed drones and missiles. read more
An honour guard carried the coffins – draped with flags, flowers and photographs of the dead – with military music through the capital Sanaa. Relatives gathered to mourn their loved ones.
“We are in these days inspired by these martyrs’ pride and dignity and say to them: ‘congratulations! You have preceded us to a paradise as wide as the heavens and earth’,” said Ali Muhyaddin, a relative of one of the dead.
The war in Yemen has killed tens of thousands and caused what the United Nations describes as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
U.N.-led efforts to agree a ceasefire have stalled in the conflict, which is seen largely as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Houthis say they are fighting a corrupt system and foreign invasion.
Houthi media showed fighters exchanging heavy artillery fire with coalition forces in Marib on Sunday as warplanes flew overhead. All the 25 fighters buried in Sanaa were killed in Marib, Houthi officials said.
The Houthis have launched a year-long offensive to take Marib, which hosts Yemen’s biggest gas fields. The city is the last stronghold of the internationally recognised government.
Marib is home to 3 million people, including nearly 1 million who fled other parts of Yemen after the Houthis ousted the government from the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014, prompting the Saudi-led coalition to intervene.
The number of displaced people in camps in the province has risen nearly 10-fold since September, with more than 45,000 people fleeing their homes as Houthi forces press the offensive, the U.N. migration agency IOM said last month.
Writing by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Alex Richardson