Wed Feb 22, 2017 03:30PM
Fighters for Yemen's Houthi Ansarullah movement take part in a parade in the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, January 3, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Fighters for Yemen's Houthi Ansarullah movement take part in a parade in the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, January 3, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

In a major blow to the Saudi-led coalition supported by Washington, Yemeni fighters have reached the eastern outskirts of the port city of Mocha, which was overrun in early February by forces loyal to the former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

Latest media reports said on Wednesday that the Yemeni forces, backed by fighters from the Houthi Ansarullah movement, had reached the outskirts of the strategic coastal city in Ta'izz province following violent clashes the previous day with mercenaries fighting for Saudi Arabia against Yemen.

The advance comes despite the fact that Saudi warplanes conducted several airstrikes to support the troops loyal to Hadi and mercenary soldiers.

The latest round of battle for Mocha was a serious setback for an offensive launched by the pro-Saudi forces in January to try to recapture Yemen's 450-kilometer Red Sea coastline.

Hadi loyalists and mercenary soldiers overran Mocha on February 10.

For nearly two years, the regime in Riyadh has provided military support for pro-Hadi forces. However, their control is still largely restricted to southern Yemen and some areas along the Saudi border.

Pro-Saudi mercenaries carry injured men onto the back of a pick-up truck in the western Yemeni coastal town of Mocha, February 11, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Local media reports earlier said several high-ranking pro-Saudi commanders were among those killed in a medium-range ballistic missile attack carried out by Yemeni forces on an area close to the strategic Bab el-Mandeb Strait.

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Riyadh has failed to accomplish its declared objectives in the bloody campaign it launched against Yemen in March 2015.

Saudi Arabia began the military aggression in an attempt to undermine Ansarullah and reinstall Hadi, who is a close ally of the regime in Riyadh.

Over the past months of bombardment, Saudi airstrikes have taken a heavy toll on Yemen's facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories.

The United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, said last month that the campaign had claimed the lives of 10,000 Yemenis and left 40,000 others injured.

McGoldrick told reporters in the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, that the figure was based on casualty counts given by health facilities and that the actual number might be higher.

However, local sources say the Saudi war has so far claimed the lives of at least 11,400 Yemenis.