Coalition strikes inflict heavy casualties on rebels
Yemeni forces advance against Houthis in Lahj province
Yemeni troops and pro-government forces recaptured a number of rebel-held areas in Lahj province as coalition air strikes and shelling inflicted heavy casualties on the Houthis.
The forces took control of Ras Al Tiwam, Al Kuayadat, Al Sakia, east and north Al Hashmah and Jebel Al Ahmar in a swift operation on the Kirsh front, the state news agency Wam reported.
Jets from the Saudi-led coalition supporting the Yemeni government bombed Jebel Al Ahmar before ground forces seized the area following clashes with Houthi fighters.
Coalition artillery hit Houthi strongholds in Ras Al Malha, causing heavy loss of equipment and lives, Wam said.
Government forces also took control of Ras Al Tiwam, Al Kuayadat, Al Sakia, and east and north Al Hashmah with coalition air support.
A number of the rebel fighters were captured and the forces recovered a large cache of weapons, ammunition and dozens of mines.
A Yemeni military source said morale was high among government forces after recent victories over the Iran-backed rebels.
Coalition fighters jets continue to target rebel-held areas to destroy Iranian reinforcements and military vehicles on battle fronts across Yemen, Wam said.
Yemen's war enters its fourth year on Monday with rebels still holding the capital, Sanaa, which they seized in September 2014. However, the rebels are on the defensive and control much less territory, the Saudi foreign minister Adel Al Jubeir said this week.
On Thursday, the US Defence Secretary James Mattis told the visiting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Pentagon that the United States supported Saudi Arabia's efforts to end the war.