Fighting for the key Yemeni region of Marib has intensified, with 53 pro-government and Huthi rebel fighters dead in the past 24 hours, loyalist military officials said yesterday. The Huthis have been trying to seize oil-rich Marib, the government's last significant pocket of territory in the north, since February. "The rebels have managed to seize a bit of territory" in the latest fighting northwest of the city, a pro-government military source said, adding that they did not threaten the city of Marib itself. The same source said 22 government soldiers including five officers had been killed, along with 31 rebels. Loyalist military officials yesterday said that coalition aircraft had carried out strikes against the rebels, but the Huthis had pushed on with their offensive. The rebels have stepped up missile and drone strikes against neighbouring Saudi Arabia in recent months, rejecting a Saudi proposal for a ceasefire.