KHOKHA - Yemen's government has retaken a Red Sea town from Huthi insurgents, officials said Thursday, days after President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's administration ordered troops to advance on the rebel-held capital.
The war-torn Arabian Peninsula country has been plunged deeper into turmoil by the killing on Monday of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh by the Huthis after his alliance with the Iran-backed insurgents collapsed.
Government troops backed by a Saudi-led military coalition launched an operation overnight and drove the Huthis out of Khokha, which fell to the rebels in January, an army captain and officials in the town said, requesting anonymity.
The news could not be independently confirmed.
The Yemeni capital Sanaa is now largely under the control of the Huthis -- northern tribes with links to Iran -- after clashes between the rebels and Saleh loyalists erupted last week.
Khokha lies between rebel-held Hodeida 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 Hodeida 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.
Riyadh and its allies accuse their arch-rival Iran of arming the Shiite rebels. Tehran denies the accusation.
More than 8,750 people have been killed since Saudi Arabia and its allies joined the government's fight against the Huthis in 2015, triggering what the UN has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.