Written by Staff Writer by Alison Fraser
Residents of Yemen’s Marib province have started digging deep in the sand to defend the perimeter of the region’s largest gas plant, a key government facility and a vital strategic point in the country’s ongoing war.
The alliance of Houthi militants and their allies, loyal to deposed Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, launched an offensive Thursday toward Marib, which sits to the east of Sanaa, the capital.
Yemen’s Marib province is strategically significant. The province is home to the country’s largest gas fields and to the country’s biggest oil fields.
“The militants have targeted the Yemeni army’s positions and evacuated parts of Marib City with millions of rounds of (retaliatory) rocket fire,” according to CNN correspondents, who are based in Yemen.
Marib’s air base has also been “reinforced,” according to correspondents.
CNN spoke to one Marib resident who said she helped dig a trench in front of the gas plant.
“Many families went back to their hometowns and rented rooms and stayed there. But some have bought land. And they are going back to dig trenches. I was helping them. We dug a trench in front of the gas plant and started covering it with sand. We don’t want the militants to get through the trench because we don’t know what kind of weapons they have.”
Residents of Marib’s Jawf neighborhood reported the sound of rockets hitting their area and the movement of tanks around the city.
The war in Yemen is the third most violent in the world, according to a report released by Global Peace Index . Yemen’s neighbors, Saudi Arabia and Iran, are locked in a proxy war for influence.
Casualties have been mounting in the war, which started after a Houthi insurgency in 2014.
According to the United Nations, the war has left more than 8,000 people dead.