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, according to military sources.
The bodies of 50 Shi'ite Huthi rebels and allied troops were retrieved from the city yesterday,
the sources said, adding that 31 pro-government fighters were also killed.
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 the intelligence headquarters, a fortress from which the rebels had been shelling Taez, as well as the highest peak overlooking the city, said a spokesman for the pro-government militia there.
Clashes were ongoing yesterday. The latest advance on Taez came after loyalist forces made sweeping gains in south Yemen, starting with their recapture of the main city Aden last month.
Military sources say the coalition has provided exiled president Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's supporters with modern heavy equipment, including tanks, and Yemeni soldiers trained in Saudi Arabia.
The conflict has cost nearly 4,300 lives since March, half of them civilians, according to United Nations figures, while 80 per cent of Yemen's 21 million people have been left in need of aid and protection. AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE