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Gulf-backed forces take more cities in Yemen

SANAA: Pro-government forces in Yemen, backed by the Saudi-led coalition, have recaptured more cities in southern provinces, military sources said on Sunday.

In the southern province of Ibb, which links the Houthi-held capital Sanaa with frontlines in the southern provinces of Dhamar, Taiz and al-Bayda, the pro-government forces managed to take control of al-Hazm and al-Odain towns after hours of fighting, the sources said.

“We had advanced and engaged in fierce fighting, simultaneously, in both towns against the rebels and seized control of government buildings and security stations,” the spokesman of pro-government forces told Xinhua.

It was another blow to the Houthis and their ally ex-President Ali Abdullash Saleh, after they had lost Aden, Lahj and al-Dhalee provinces in the past two weeks.

Pro-government forces now control the main roads to Aden, Lahj and al-Dhalee and began to attack the Houthis in the southern province of Taiz, about 30 km south of Ibb.

Their military operations were supported by airstrikes of the Saudi-led coalition, sources said.

In Taiz, deadly fighting continued between the warring parties. Medical sources said 33 Houthis and 12 pro-government fighters were killed and 38 others wounded in the overnight battle.

Meanwhile, the government forces announced Sunday that they had retaken the southern Abyan province after weeks of battles.

“The popular resistance and national army backed by tanks supplied by the Saudi-led Arab coalition managed in the early hours of Sunday to seize control of the 15th military brigade and all government buildings in the capital city of Zunjubar,” a commander said in a statement.

The country’s Interior Ministry, which is controlled by the Houthi group, ordered its security agencies on Sunday to raise vigilance for “possible infiltration” of militants into the capital.

All checkpoints at the entrances to Sanaa may respond to any attacks by those militants, the ministry said, in reference to pro-government forces.

The capital Sanaa has been controlled by the Shiite Houthi group since last September. In late February, after weeks of house arrest, President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi was ousted and fled to Aden, declaring it the temporary capital. He has been taking refuge with his cabinet in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, since late March.

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