AL-MUKALLA: The Arab coalition supporting the Yemeni government said Wednesday it had killed 165 Houthis in the central province of Marib and the west coast, as heavy fighting between troops and the Iran-backed militia continued outside Marib city.

During the past 24 hours, coalition warplanes carried out 24 air raids in Marib that claimed the lives of 140 Houthis and destroyed 15 vehicles belonging to the rebels.

Planes also hit five Houthi targets at flashpoint sites along the country’s west coast, killing 25 rebels and destroying four military vehicles.

The coalition also announced launching fresh airstrikes against Houthi targets in Sanaa to neutralize the threat of ballistic missiles and explosive-rigged drones.

Warplanes struck two caves used to store ballistic missiles and four secret drone facilities in Houthi-held Sanaa, the coalition said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.

During the past few months, the coalition has intensified airstrikes on military sites controlled by the Houthis in the city, targeting ballistic missile depots and workshops used to assemble drones.

Its sorties have also killed hundreds of Houthis on the battlefield, paving the way for troops to thwart the militia’s assaults.

On the ground, local government and military officials said that fighting had intensified south and west of Marib city, as the Houthis stepped up attacks in their bid to overwhelm troops and tribal fighters defending it.

The heaviest clashes were reported on Wednesday in the mountainous areas of Al-Mashjah and Al-Kasara, west of Marib.

With the help of coalition warplanes, troops managed to push back the Houthis and destroyed military vehicles belonging to the militia, local sources said.

In the south of Marib, less intensive fighting was reported on Wednesday around the Al-Balaq mountain range.

The UN’s Yemen envoy Hans Grundberg warned of bloodier urban fighting in the densely populated city of Marib if the Houthis did not stop their offensive, urging warring factions not to shutter channels of communication between them even during fighting.

“I remain concerned about the possibility of urban warfare in the city, which would have terrible consequences for the civilians. Ansar Allah’s (Houthis’) offensive on Marib is having worrying ripple effects across other frontlines,” he said on Tuesday while briefing the UN Security Council on the situation in Yemen.

Grundberg added that the conflict was intensifying at an unprecedented scale and threatened to undermine peace efforts to end the war, exacerbating the already dire humanitarian crisis.

“Since I last addressed this council, the conflict has escalated considerably. There is a risk that this could open a new chapter of Yemen’s war that is even more fragmented and bloody.”

The US representative to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told the council during the same session that the Houthis’ repeated ignoring of international calls to stop their offensive, their detention of Yemeni employees, and their attacks on civilians in Yemen and Saudi Arabia showed they were unwilling to accept UN-brokered peace efforts.

“The Houthis have ignored repeated calls from this council and the international community to cease their offensive in Marib province. The offensive endangers thousands of civilians, and. It could lead to the displacement of half-a-million people. The Houthis must stop this offensive immediately,” she said.