SANAA, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- Heavy clashes between the Yemeni government forces and the Houthi militia in the oil-rich central province of Marib have killed 13 government soldiers, a government military source said Sunday.
The fighting that erupted on the frontline of the southern district of Al-Jubah also wounded several soldiers, the source in Marib said on condition of anonymity.
"The clashes erupted after the Houthi fighters moved in groups through three directions toward the sites of the government forces," the source said, adding the fighting lasted eight hours throughout the night till morning.
"It was a very deadly, fierce attack, in which heavy machine guns, rockets and artillery were used in the battle," the military source added.
The government forces are still estimating the causalities from the Houthi side, while the Houthi group, which rarely reported its casualties, has not commented on the clashes yet.
While the Yemeni government controls most of Marib and its oil and gas fields, the Houthis have launched intense offensives over the past years trying to take over the strategic province, which is considered a stronghold between the Houthis and the southern provinces.
The escalation came nearly three months after a six-month nationwide truce expired in October last year.
Yemen has been mired in a civil war since late 2014 when the Iran-backed Houthi militia stormed several northern cities and forced the Saudi-backed Yemeni government out of the capital Sanaa.
The war has killed tens of thousands, displaced 4 million and pushed the country to the brink of starvation. ■