ADEN: Heavy fighting between government loyalists and rebels for Yemen's third city Taez has left more than 80 people dead in the past 24 hours, military sources said on Monday.
The dead bodies of 50 Huthi 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 on Sunday that pro-government forces, supported by Gulf air strikes have made key gains against 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.