Houthi militants patrol the site of a parade held by newly recruited Houthi fighters before the fighters head to the frontline to fight against government forces, in Sanaa, Yemen January 5, 2017. Image Credit: Reuters

Al Mukalla: At least 20 people including a primary school student were killed and dozens injured in two consecutive days of fierce battles in Yemen’s southern city of Taiz, residents and army commanders said on Friday.

Fighting erupted on Thursday when Al Houthis launched a fresh offensive to take control of several locations on the western and eastern edges of the city.

The clashes lasted for more than 20 hours and the government forces pushed the rebels back, killing at least 15 under heavy air support from Saudi-led coalition fighter jets.

Army commanders said neither government forces nor Al Houthis managed to make territorial gains in the fighting that subsided on Friday afternoon.

Residents said a primary school student was killed and another was injured on Thursday when a shell fired by Al Houthis exploded on their way back home from school. Despite mounting heavy raids on the government forces in the city, Al Houthis have failed to advance into downtown since the beginning of their military expansion in Taiz province in early 2015.

Hundreds of fighters and civilians have been killed in Yemen’s third-largest city as the rebel forces impose partial siege, bringing thousands of residents to the brink of starvation.

In the northern province of Saada, Al Houthis’ heartland, a senior tribal leader loyal to the government told Gulf News on Friday that his forces were deployed on hilly locations that overlook the headquarters of Brigade 101 after defusing landmines planted by the fleeing Al Houthis. Saleh Qurush said government forces have taken control of several uplands in Sana’a. Backed by the coalition’s warplanes, the government forces entered Al Houthis heartland in October in a bid to put an end to months of military stalemate in Nehim, Bayhan and Shabwa.

Last week, Al Houthis suffered a major defeat in Saada after the government forces took control of Brigade 101 and seized stashes of arms. Clashes also broke out in Ouslan and Bayhan districts in the southern province of Shabwa.

In the southern port city of Aden, hundreds of people attended the funeral of several army troops and resistance fighters killed in a rocket attack in an area near the strategic Bab Al Mandab Strait. Aden Al Ghad news site reported on Friday that Al Houthis on Thursday launched a ballistic missile at a gathering of government loyalists killing six and injuring 12.