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Yemen government forces launch new offensive

With the help of Saudi Arabian tanks, Yemeni forces began a military campaign to retake the southern provincial capital of Zinjibar
The military campaign came two days after Saudi Arabia had sent new military equipment to Yemen (AFP)

Pro-government forces in Yemen, backed with newly arrived Saudi Arabian tanks, launched an offensive Saturday to retake the rebel-held capital of Abyan province, military sources told AFP.

The sources said that the offensive is a two-pronged drive from the north and south on the southern province's capital of Zinjibar.

The military campaign came two days after Saudi Arabia - leading an Arab coalition air war on the Iran-backed Huthi rebels - had sent new military equipment to Yemen.

The tanks were part of a package of reinforcements including armoured vehicles and personnel carriers as well as hundreds of Yemeni soldiers trained in Saudi Arabia, a military source said.

This week has seen heavy fighting in Zinjibar and heavy coalition air strikes against positions of armed groups allied to the Huthis.

Since 26 March, the coalition has supported loyalists with air strikes to halt advances by the Huthis, who seized Sana'a last year before pressing south into the port city of Aden.

But pro-government forces retook Aden last month and seized the key airbase of Al-Anad to its north on Tuesday.

Military sources said at least 22 people, mostly returning civilians, have been killed since Thursday by explosions of mines planted by retreating Huthis in Aden and Lahj provinces.

Aden was the last refuge of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi before he fled into exile with his government in Saudi Arabia in March.

The International Committee of the Red Cross head arrived Saturday in Sanaa at the start of a three-day visit to assess the "dire humanitarian situation" in the country.

The ICRC says 1.3 million Yemenis have been displaced by the conflict.