Yemen government recaptures Red Sea town from rebels
Yemen's internationally recognised government recaptured a strategic Red Sea town from Houthi forces, officials said on Thursday, days after President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's administration ordered the advance.
Government troops launched an operation overnight and drove the Houthis out of Khokha, which fell to the rebels in January, an army captain and officials in the town said, requesting anonymity.
Southern separatist fighters, backed by government forces and the Saudi-led coalition, allegedly took part in the offensive against the rebels, Yemeni journalist Yaser al-Hasani said.
Videos posted across social media platforms showed a convoy entering the town to the chanting of locals welcoming the troops arrival.
Khokha lies between rebel-held Hodeidah and government-controlled Mokha on the Red Sea coast and is central to the expansion of government control over the strategic coastline.
The port of Hodeidah is the main conduit for UN-supervised deliveries of food and medicine to Yemen, where poverty has been compounded by war and a blockade on ports and airports imposed by the Saudi-led coalition.
But Riyadh and its allies accuse their arch-rival Iran of arming the rebels via the port. Tehran denies the accusation.
The war-torn Arabian Peninsula country has been plunged deeper into turmoil by the killing of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh after his alliance with the insurgents collapsed.
The Yemeni capital Sanaa is now largely under the control of the Houthis after clashes between the rebels and Saleh loyalists erupted last week, resulting in the killing of their former ally.
More than 10,000 people have been killed since Saudi Arabia and its allies joined the government's fight against the Houthis in 2015, triggering what the UN has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.