Yemen government retakes Red Sea port from Huthis
Mohammed HUWAIS (AFP)
Yemen's government has retaken a Red Sea town from Huthi insurgents in clashes that left dozens of fighters dead, officials said Thursday, days after President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's administration ordered troops to advance on the rebel-held capital.
Medical sources said 16 government soldiers and 41 Huthi rebels were killed in the fight for Khokha, under rebel control since January -- with the Huthis also coming under attack by Arab coalition air raids.
Some 30 rebels were detained, while the hospital sources said dozens of combatants were wounded.
The war-torn Arabian Peninsula country has been plunged deeper into turmoil by Monday's killing of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh at the hands of the Huthis after his alliance with the insurgents collapsed.
The capital Sanaa is now largely under the control of the Huthis -- northern tribes with links to Iran -- after clashes between the rebels and Saleh loyalists erupted last week.
Khokha lies between rebel-held Hodeida and government-controlled Mokha on the Red Sea coast and is central to the expansion of government control over the strategic coastline.
The port of Hodeida is the main conduit for UN-supervised deliveries of food and medicine to Yemen, where poverty has been compounded by war and a blockade on ports and airports imposed by the Saudi-led coalition.
Riyadh and its allies accuse their arch-rival Iran of arming the Shiite rebels. Tehran denies the accusation.
More than 8,750 people have been killed since Saudi Arabia and its allies joined the government's fight against the Huthis in 2015, triggering what the UN has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
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