ADEN, Yemen, March 17 (Xinhua) -- Yemen's Houthi militia on Tuesday stepped up its military operations and carried out all-out offensives against the oil-rich province of Marib.
Intensified and coordinated armed military attacks were launched by the Houthis against several sites of the government forces stationed in the western outskirts of Marib, 170 km east of the country's capital Sanaa.
An official of the government forces told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that "intense battles are still taking place between the national forces and the Houthis that are attempting to invade Marib from different sides."
He said that all types of heavy weapons including artillery shelling are used between the two warring rivals in the battles raging over the control of key government army bases in the outskirts of Marib.
Warplanes of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition launched a series of airstrikes in an attempt to support the government forces on-ground and repelling the Houthi attacks.
Eyewitnesses told Xinhua that reinforcements of government troops and tribal fighters were seen on military vehicles heading from the city of Marib towards the district Sirwah, where battles are occurring with Houthis.
Media outlets affiliated with the Saudi-backed Yemeni government forces said that nearly 80 Houthi fighters were killed in the battles happening in Marib.
No information, however, was given about casualties among the soldiers of the government during the fighting with the Houthis in Marib.
The Houthis intensified their military operations against the oil-rich Marib province just weeks after seizing many areas in the strategic northeastern province of al-Jawf that's bordering Saudi Arabia.
Earlier in the day, Yahya Sarea, the military spokesman of the Iranian-backed Houthi group announced that his fighters captured all areas of al-Jawf following large military operations.
He pointed out that the Houthi fighters are in position to invade the government-controlled province of Marib militarily after making significant on-ground military achievements in the country's northeastern part.
The Houthis seized control of al-Hazm, capital of al-Jawf, two weeks ago following weeks of ferocious battles that forced thousands of families to flee their homes to the nearby government-controlled Marib province.
The United Nations special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths urged the Yemeni parties to resume the political process, warning that the escalation in al-Jawf could drag Yemen downward into "a new and irresponsible cycle of violence."
Yemen has been mired in a civil war since late 2014, when the Iran-backed Houthis seized control of much of the country's north and forced the Saudi-backed government out of the capital Sanaa.