Officials: Heavy fighting kills 27 people in central Yemen

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Heavy fighting between rebels and government forces in Yemen’s oil-rich Marib has killed at least 27 people, tribal leaders and security officials said Firday, amid a resurgence of violence in the area.

The Iranian-backed Houthi rebels earlier this month renewed their attack on Marib, a stronghold for Yemeni forces allied with the internationally recognized government. The rebel offensive has faced stiff resistance and made little progress so far.

The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to talk to the media, said the uptick in violence came over the past twenty-four hours, adding that most of the dead were rebel fighters.

Yemen’s stalemated civil war began in 2014, when the rebels seized the capital of Sanaa and much of the country’s north. A Saudi-led coalition — with U.S. backing — intervened months later to restore the internationally recognized government’s authority.

Yemeni security officials said that government forces have also advanced on the strategic northern city of Hazm, under air cover provided by Saudi-led forces.

The rebels are aiming to take control of Marib in order to close off Saudi Arabia’s southern border and seize oil fields in the province that would give them leverage in possible peace negotiations.

The war in Yemen has killed some 130,000 people and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian disaster, leading much of the country to the brink of famine.

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