A high-ranking military commander for Saudi-backed militants loyal to fugitive former Yemeni president, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, has been killed in fighting with Yemeni army troops and their allied fighters near the strategic city of Ma’rib.
Yemen's al-Khabar al-Yemeni news website, citing informed sources speaking on condition of anonymity, reported on Monday that Major General Nasser al-Zubiani, who headed military operations for pro-Hadi forces, lost his life while leading battles against Yemeni soldiers and fighters from Popular Committees in the Balaq mountain range, south of the city of Ma’rib.
Zubiani was reportedly inspecting Saudi mercenaries and allied tribal fighters who were trying to stave off the Yemeni army attack at the time.
A Yemeni military source had earlier told AFP that Zubiani was among 28 militants killed in clashes with Yemeni armed forces in the past 24 hours.
Saudi-backed militants and Yemeni armed troops forces have been locked for months in a fierce battle for Ma’rib, which serves as the last stronghold for Takfiri terrorists.
Over the past two days, Yemeni army forces and Popular Committees fighters have taken control of the largest outpost for al-Qaeda terrorists in the al-Kari area of al-Wadi region, located south of Ma’rib city, killing dozens of the extremists and Saudi mercenaries in the process.
Local sources said Yemeni forces continue to make on-the-ground advances. They have consolidated their control over the Eastern Balaq district and surrounding areas, tightening the noose around Saudi-led coalition forces and their mercenaries.
Arabic-language al-Alam television news network reported that intense clashes are ongoing between the Yemeni army and Saudi-backed pro-Hadi militants on the outskirts of Ma’rib city.
In the face of recent defeats by al-Qaeda terrorists and its mercenaries, Saudi Arabia has stepped up airstrikes against Yemeni soldiers and their allied fighters from Popular Committees, and struck various areas of Yemen, particularly Ma’rib.
Saudi fighter jets carried out at least 21 air raids against Balaq area, though there were no immediate reports about possible casualties and the extent of damage caused.
Saudi military aircraft also launched five strikes against Sirwah district in the same province. No reports of possible casualties were quickly available.
Saudi Arabia, backed by the United States and regional allies, launched the war on Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing Hadi’s government back to power and crushing the popular Ansarullah resistance movement.
The war has left hundreds of thousands of Yemenis dead, and displaced millions more. It has also destroyed Yemen’s infrastructure and spread famine and infectious diseases there.
Despite heavily-armed Saudi Arabia’s incessant bombardment of the impoverished country, the Yemeni armed forces and the Popular Committees have grown steadily in strength against the Saudi-led invaders and left Riyadh and its allies bogged down in the country.