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AL-MUKALLA: The Yemeni army and members of the allied tribes repelled the Houthi assaults on the town of Marib, an army spokesman said on Tuesday, denying media reports that the rebels were moving closer to their target.

Major General Abdu Abdullah Majili said the rebels failed to make any major gains in their continued offensive and lost hundreds of fighters, including many military leaders.

“So far, the national army and Yemeni tribesmen are inflicting heavy defeats on the Houthis, foiling their attacks, killing their fighters and destroying their equipment,” he told Arab News, adding that the The Houthis always sent reinforcements to the battlefield in their attempt to defeat government troops. “The Houthis are spreading lies and rumors as part of their psychological warfare to make up for their setbacks on the battlefield.”

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On Sunday, the UKTN news agency reported that the Houthis had made gains after taking control of Al-Kasara, northwest of the city.

Yemeni military officials and journalists traveled to Al-Kasara, interviewing soldiers and tribesmen who denied the Houthis were advancing.

“We are stationed in our barricades and our hands are on the trigger,” a soldier named Mohammed told the army’s official news site. “We will continue to fight the Houthis on all fronts and not allow them to advance towards Marib.”

The Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that government forces mounted a counteroffensive in Al-Mashjah, west of Marib, and killed scores of Houthis.

Arab coalition fighter jets have targeted rebel rallies and military equipment, with at least 10 Houthis killed in Al-Makhdra after troops attacked their locations.

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More than 2,000 rebels and government soldiers have been killed since early February, when the Houthis resumed their offensive to take control of oil-rich Marib.

On Monday, senior military and security officials attended a funeral procession for the military judge, Major General Abdullah Al-Hadhri, who was killed during fighting with the Houthis in Marib.

Abdu Rabbo Meftah, deputy governor of Marib, said the offensive brought the number of displaced people to more than 2.3 million after thousands abandoned their camps near the battlefields and took refuge in overcrowded city camps.

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In the southern city of Taiz, troops took control of several villages in Maqbanah district after clashes with the Houthis.

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They were now fighting to expel the rebels from the center of the district, Taiz army spokesman Abdul Basit Al-Baher told state media on Tuesday.

The fighting took place as UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths called for an end to the assault on Marib and demanded that the warring factions abide by the peace efforts of the ‘UN.

“The parties must prioritize the needs of the Yemeni people, stop the fighting and engage seriously in the efforts of the United Nations,” he said. “I will continue to pursue my good offices with the support of regional and international stakeholders to end military hostilities, alleviate humanitarian suffering and find a peaceful and lasting settlement to end the conflict in Yemen.”

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