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  • Yemeni government forces' tanks and armoured vehicles on the road leading to the southwestern port of Mokha on Jan. 23, 2017.

    Yemeni government forces' tanks and armoured vehicles on the road leading to the southwestern port of Mokha on Jan. 23, 2017. | Photo: AFP

Published 24 January 2017

Clashes continued Tuesday on the southern and eastern outskirts of Mokha, almost three weeks into the government-Saudi-led offensive.

Fighting for a key port city on Yemen's Red Sea coast has left at least 40 rebel and pro-government fighters dead, military officials said Tuesday.

Loyalist forces said Monday they had captured the port of Mokha, almost three weeks into an offensive to oust Shiite Houthi insurgents and their allies from Yemen's southwestern coast.

But they exchanged fire overnight with rebels still holed up in the port on Mokha's southwestern edge. Clashes continued Tuesday on the southern and eastern outskirts of the city.

Rebel snipers were reported to have slowed the loyalist advance. At least 28 rebels and 12 pro-government fighters have been killed in fighting in the past 24 hours, military and medical sources said Tuesday.

That brought to nearly 200 the number of deaths on both sides since the offensive began. Houthi forces had controlled Mokha since they overran the capital Sanaa in September 2014 and advanced on other regions aided by troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Forces supporting President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, launched a vast offensive on Jan. 7 to retake the coastline overlooking the Bab al-Mandab strait.

The World Health Organization says more than 7,400 people have been killed since the coalition intervention began in March 2015. But U.N. humanitarian coordinator Jamie McGoldrick said last week that as many as 10,000 civilians may have died.

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