Al Mukalla: Dozens of Iran-backed Al Houthi militants have been killed over the last couple of days in fierce fighting with government forces in Nehim district, just outside of rebel-held Yemeni capital Sana’a, a Yemeni army spokesperson told Gulf News.

Brigadier General Abdo Abdullah Majili said on Wednesday that government forces, backed massive air support from the Saudi-led coalition, have liberated as many as 20 locations on Nehim’s rugged chain of mountains after launching a surprise attack on rebel-held fronts.

“The fresh territorial gains have put us closer to Arhab district and Sana’a,” Majili said.

On Tuesday morning, following a big mortar attack and heavy air strikes, Majili said, government forces mounted an offensive on Al Houthi territories in Nehim and by midnight managed to push them out of several mountains, a village, a dam and a vast of unequipped land.

“Ahead of the offensive, coalition fighter jets played a pivotal role in paying the way for this success by targeting Al Houthi locations and military reinforcements,” Majili said.

Colonel Abdullah Al Shandaqi, a spokesperson for the 7th Military Region, said that at least 34 Al Houthi militants were killed and more than ten armed vehicles were destroyed in the raging fighting in Nehim.

Government forces have sought to break months of military stalemate on the Sana’a front where loyalists have made very limited gains despite receiving modern arms and air cover from the Saudi-coalition.

Army commanders in Nehim argue that the area’s rough geographical nature and thousands of landmines planted by Al Houthis have slowed down their advances.

Meanwhile, in the southern city of Taiz, government forces have regained control of locations on Han mountain after fierce battles with Al Houthis on the western suburbs of the city.

Majili said that the rebels were forced into fleeing mountainous locations that they controlled earlier this week.

“Government forces have foiled many attempts by Al Houthi militants to advance on western edges of the city despite amassing a big number of fighters and equipment,” Majili said.

Residents said that the rebels are heavily shelling densely populated districts in the city’s downtown which is under government’s control.

On Sunday, two women were killed when a rocket fired by Al Houthis landed in their farm in Salo, a region south east of the city.

Al Houthis have largely failed to take full control of the city of Taiz, Yemen’s third largest city, despite laying siege for nearly three years.

The Saudi-led coalition military intervention in Yemen has enabled government forces to reverse Al Houthi military gains and to take control of 80 per cent of the country’s land.