Pro-government forces in Yemen retake seaside town after heavy fighting with Shiite rebels

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SANAA, Yemen — Pro-government forces drove Shiite rebels from a strategic seaside town on Friday after three days of heavy clashes that killed nearly 100 fighters, Yemeni security officials said.

Pro-government fighters have seized the town of Dhubab, cutting off rebel supply lines to Yemen's third largest city, Taiz, said the officials, who remain neutral in the conflict that has splintered Yemen's armed forces.

Yemen's fighting pits the Houthi rebels, who are allied with army units loyal to a former president, against the internationally recognized government backed by a Saudi-led coalition.

The U.N. says at least 2,355 civilians have been killed in Yemen since March, when the Saudi-led coalition began launching airstrikes against the Houthis and their allies.

Taiz is in government hands, but is besieged by Houthis. Securing Taiz would allow pro-government forces to push north toward the rebel-held capital, Sanaa. Pro-government fighters are also advancing on the nearby Red Sea port of Mocha, which is also along rebel supply lines to Taiz, Brig. Gen. Samir al-Haj told The Associated Press.

In response, the Houthis deployed fighters to Turba, a largely abandoned town that leads to Taiz's barely-defended southeastern areas, Houthis officials said. "It may be far off, but it is a way in" to the city, one Houthi official said. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to brief reporters.

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