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Yemen: Saudi-led coalition says more than 260 Houthis killed around Marib

Deaths follow call for 'de-escalation' of conflict by UN Security Council to counter risk of 'large-scale famine'
Fighters loyal to Yemen's Saudi-backed government man a position at the front line facing Houthi rebels in Marib province on 23 October 2021 (AFP)

The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has said it killed more than 260 Houthi rebels around the city of Marib in the past three days.

The deaths, which could not be independently verified, were announced by the official Saudi Press Agency on Sunday.

"Thirty-six military vehicles were destroyed and more than 264" rebel fighters were killed in air strikes in the past 72 hours, the coalition said.

The strikes were carried out in Al-Jawba, some 50km south of Marib, and Al-Kassara, 30km to the northwest.

"If the enemy thought that their warplanes could limit the progress of our forces or break the determination of our soldiers they are mistaken," Houthi spokesman Yahya Saree said on the rebels' Al-Masirah TV channel.

He claimed that during an operation the rebels had killed 550 pro-government fighters, wounded 1,200, and taken 90 prisoners, without specifying a time frame.

The coalition has for the past two weeks reported almost daily strikes around Marib.

The Houthis began a major push to seize Marib in February and have renewed their offensive since September after a lull.

'Growing risk of large-scale famine'

Yemen's civil war began in 2014 when the Houthis seized the capital, Sanaa, 120km west of Marib, prompting Saudi Arabia-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 the conflict.

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The UN Security Council on Wednesday called in a unanimously adopted statement for a "de-escalation" in Yemen to counter the risk of "large-scale famine" in the country.

The 15 council members "stressed the need for de-escalation by all," demanded an immediate nationwide ceasefire, and called for an end to the Marib escalation of fighting.

"The members of the Security Council expressed grave concern for the dire humanitarian situation, including prolonged starvation and the growing risk of large-scale famine," according to the statement.

The council also "condemned the recruitment and use of children, and sexual violence, in conflict".

The UN children's agency this week said that seven years of conflict in Yemen had killed or wounded at least 10,000 children.

The figure included only child victims whose fates were known to the organisation.

"Yemen's humanitarian crisis - the world's worst - represents a tragic convergence of four threats: (1) A violent and protracted conflict, (2) economic devastation, (3) shattered services for every support system - that is, health, nutrition, water and sanitation, protection and education, and (4) a critically under-funded UN response," spokesman James Elder told a UN briefing in Geneva on Tuesday.

"The war must come to an end."