More than 80 dead in heavy fighting for key Yemen city

  • AFP, Aden
  • Updated: Aug 17, 2015 19:04 IST
A man walks on the rubble of a house destroyed during recent fighting between Houthi militiamen and militants loyal to Yemen's exiled government (Reuters Photo)

According to military sources more than 80 people have died in the past 24 hours as a result of heavy fighting between government loyalists and rebels for Yemen's third city Taez.

The dead bodies of 50 Shiite rebels and allied troops were retrieved from the city on Monday, the sources in Taez said, adding that 31 pro-government fighters were also killed.

Military sources said Sunday that pro-government forces, supported by Gulf air strikes have made key gains against the Iran-backed rebels in Taez -- seen as a gateway to the rebel-held capital Sanaa.

They have seized several strategic locations in the city, including intelligence headquarters, a fortress from which the rebels had been shelling Taez, as well as the highest peak overlooking the city, according to Rashad al-Sharaabi, spokesman of the pro-government militia there.

Clashes were ongoing Monday with fierce fighting using heavy weaponry reported around the rebel-held presidential palace.

The latest advance on Taez came after loyalist forces made sweeping gains in south Yemen, starting with their recapture of main city Aden in mid-July.

Military sources say the coalition has provided exiled president Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's supporters with modern heavy equipment, including tanks and armoured personnel carriers, and Yemeni soldiers trained in Saudi Arabia.

The conflict has cost nearly 4,300 lives since March, half of them civilians, according to UN figures, while 80 percent of Yemen's 21 million people have been left in need of aid and protection.

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