Top Yemeni judge dies in Marib clashes
A top Yemeni military judge was killed in clashes with Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Marib late on Saturday, as the rebels continued to edge closer to centre of the government’s last northern stronghold.
General Abdullah al-Hadhiri, who served as the the chief of Yemen's military judiciary and attorney general at the defence ministry, died amid intense fighting with Houthi forces west of Marib city, according to sources close to the military.
In 2020, Al-Hadhiri tried Houthi leader Abdullah Al Houthi and 174 other Houthi members in absentia for "insurrection and forming an armed terrorist organisation under the supervision of Iran and Lebanonon's Hezbollah", according to Arabic media sources.
In 2018, he survived an attack on his convoy by armed assailants as he left government-held Taiz province for the city of southern city of Aden.
His death comes as the Houthis advance on western frontlines despite airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition which back Yemen's internationally recognised government. Over the past two days fighting has left at least 65 dead, including some 26 pro-government fighters.
With the rebels taking full control of the northwest Kassara battlefield, fighting is now focused around the Al-Mil area, government sources say. While Al-Mil is only six kilometres from the centre of Marib and its urban centres, the mountains around it remain a formidable barrier to the rebels.
Read more: Yemen's Houthi rebels advance on Marib, dozens dead: military sources
The city's loss would be catastrophic for the government and Saudi Arabia which has supported it since March 2015, after the rebels took Sanaa.
It is believed that the Houthis are determined to capture the city to secure a bargaining chip for possible future negotiations with the government, amid a push by Washington to revive peace talks.
Humanitarian agencies are warning of an impending disaster if the city falls, as huge numbers of civilians displaced from fighting elsewhere have sought refuge in the area.