Local Yemeni experts warn that Houthi coup militias are resorting to crimes against humanity to make up for their failure in advancing on several battlefronts in the war-torn country.
Houthis have been targeting places of worship during times of prayers to record the highest death tolls possible. On Saturday, the group struck a mosque in a military camp in Marib – about 170km east of Sanaa – during evening prayers.
In the attack, some 111 soldiers were killed and more than 68 injured.
Yemen’s internationally recognized government has been battling the Iran-backed Houthis since 2014, when the rebels seized the capital Sanaa.
Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi condemned the “cowardly and terrorist” attack on the mosque, according to the official Saba news agency.
“The disgraceful actions of the Houthi militia without a doubt confirm its unwillingness to (achieve) peace, because it knows nothing but death and destruction and is a cheap Iranian tool in the region,” it quoted Hadi as saying.
In recent years, places of worship have become a frequent target of Houthi terrorist attacks. Before Saturday's attack, there were three attempts to target Makkah.
Saudi air defense systems were successful in thwarting the attacks against the city.
In October 2016, Houthis launched a ballistic missile attack against Makkah. The missiles were shot down by Saudi air defenses 65 kilometers away from the target.
In July 2017, another attack was stopped. The attack was described by the Arab Coalition, a Saudi-led force to back Yemen’s internationally-recognized government, as a “desperate attempt to ruin the Hajj pilgrimage season.”
“We are facing a group that seeks to impact demographic change in Yemen, and it empowers an Iranian project that targets all of its opponents,” said Ahmed al-Attiyah, the Yemeni Minister of Endowments.
“The Iranian-Houthi project has been systematic in targeting houses of worship since the coup started,” he added.
Al-Attiyah, in remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, added that his ministry has compiled data showing that Houthis have targeted 76 mosques in the areas falling under their control.
Apart from attacking places of worship, data show that Houthis have desecrated some of the mosques and transformed them into arms caches.