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Yemeni loyalist troops strengthen hold on Taiz

The army and Popular Resistance fighters have reportedly secured the centre of Yemen's third largest city
Yemeni tribesmen from the Popular Resistance Committees in Taiz this week (AFP)

Yemeni forces loyal to president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi are reportedly claiming military and government buildings in Taiz after breaking through a nearly year-long Houthi siege on the city.

On Saturday, at least 48 people were killed and 120 wounded in heavy clashes as the army and Popular Resistance fighters reportedly took control of the interior of Yemen's third-biggest city. Witnesses said there were bodies scattered in the streets.

Taiz's mayor, Ali al-Muammari, reportedly told Al Arabiya News that in the wake of the offensive, Popular Resistance Units have started handing out freed buildings to the pro-Hadi army.

Supporters of Hadi, who is backed by a Saudi-led Arab coalition, had been trying for months to lift the siege of the southwestern city and open up supply routes.

Taiz’s strategically important southwestern entrance, which links it to the southern Lahij and Aden provinces, had been one of three main city entrances held by the Houthis and allied forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

On Sunday, Sky News Arabia in Yemen confirmed the arrival of the first Saudi medical convoy to the city.

The agency reported that 50 oxygen cylinders had arrived at the Thawra Hospital, in the first stage of support, out of 4,500 cylinders promised by the King Salman Center for Relief and humanitarian action.

Another 6 tonnes of other medical supplies, medicines and oxygen cylinders provided by the World Health Organisation were delivered to the city.

The coalition has been trying for a year to roll back gains by the Houthi militia and restore Hadi, who is currently in Saudi Arabia. The war has killed more than 6,000 people and displaced millions.

The reported capture of the western entrance to Taiz, nearly half of whose 250,000 residents had been trapped since May, was hailed by the pro-Hadi media as a major breakthrough. 

The rival Houthi-run news agency, Saba News, acknowledged heavy fighting in Taiz, but said fighters from the group had killed 27 fighters loyal to Hadi.