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Landmines slow Yemen loyalists' advance on Taez

Government allied troops are hampered from advancing into Taez by mines planted by the Houthis
Armed Yemeni tribesmen from the Popular Resistance Committees sit on the back of armed pick up trucks in al-Waziyah district in the Taez governorate, on 19 November 2015 (AFP)

Landmines planted by the Houthis in Yemen have slowed the advance of pro-government forces attempting to recapture the southwestern province of Taez, military officials said on Sunday.

Government forces backed by air and ground support from the Saudi-led coalition launched an all-out offensive on Monday to push the Houthis out of Taez and help the loyalists - those seen to be loyal to exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi - to break the seige of the provincial capital.

"We have advanced after having cleared and destroyed a large quantity of anti-personnel and anti-tank mines planted by the Houthi rebels and their allies" of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh who has fought alongside the Houthis, said a military official.

Pro-coalition troops and allied Popular Resistance, who all oppose the Houthis, had until now advanced towards Rahida, the province's second-largest city, on the road linking main southern city of Aden with Taez, the official said.

However, a Yemeni commander said mines were hampering progress adding that they had caused casualties among fighters, without providing any figures. 

Loyalist forces were backed by significant reinforcements from a Saudi-led coalition which intervened in support of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi in March.

Hadi returned from Saudi exile on Tuesday as the offensive against the Houthis and their allies got under way. 

Breaking the siege of Taez is seen as crucial for the recapture of other central provinces and opening the way to the Houthi-held capital Sanaa farther north.

It is also important for securing the south, where loyalists have retaken five provinces, including Aden where Hadi has set up base, from the pro-Houthis forces since July. 

The United Nations says more than 5,700 people have been killed since the Saudi-led intervention began in March, nearly half of them civilians.

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