80 dead in 24 hours of fighting for key Yemen city

Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, tours a site which was hit by a Saudi-led air strike at the old quarter of Yemen’s capital 

ADEN: Heavy fighting between government loyalists and rebels for Yemen’s third largest city Taez has left more than 80 people dead in the past 24 hours, military sources said on Monday.

The dead bodies of 50 fighters 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 on 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 on-going on 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.

Reuters reported that  warplanes from a Saudi-led coalition killed six civilians in an air raid that targeted the home of a Houthi leader in town of Jibla on Monday.

Eleven people were killed in another air raid on a family house in the northern province of al-Jawf, bordering Saudi Arabia, tribal sources said.

Air strikes also hit the Red Sea port of Hodaida while on the ground, fighters loyal to the exiled government pushed closer to Houthi strongholds.

Tribal militiamen battled Houthi forces throughout the mountainous area of Ibb, which lies between the coast and the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa.

Loyalist forces, back by Gulf Arab planes, weapons and training, have been on the offensive since breaking out off the southern port of Aden last month, claiming a string of gains against the Houthis.

The Iranian-allied Houthis seized Sanaa last September in what they called a revolution against a corrupt government, then took over much of the country.

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