Medics attend to people, who were injured during shelling on residential areas by the Houthi militia, in Yemen's southwestern city of Taiz October 21, 2015. Image Credit: REUTERS

Al Mukalla: Government troops and resistance fighters launched on Sunday morning a massive assault on Al Houthis positions in Taiz city, killing 28 militants and capturing eight, liberating some districts, Hamoud Al Mikhlafi, the leader of the resistance told Gulf News.

Backed by aggressive air strikes by coalition warplanes, the pro-government forces attacked the militants from different sides and briefly captured the presidential palace and a military base. “Our forces took control of parts of the presidential palace and the Central Security Force camps,” Al Mikhlafi said.

Taiz, the third most important city is Yemen, has become the scene of bloody confrontations between forces loyal to president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and Al Houthis and their military allies since March. The clashes have killed hundreds and injured thousands of civilians, according to local and international human right organisations.

Al Mikhlafi said that the assault targeted a stronghold of supporters of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, adding that his forces pulled out of the presidential palace because they came under heavy fire from Al Houthi fighters who were stationed in high areas overlooking the palace.

“We focused on Brigade 22 Republican Guard, Central Security Forces camps, Al Saleh and other areas in Al Houban district,”

Saudi Arabia launched a bombing campaign in March aimed at rolling back Al Houthi advances across the country and to reinstate the government of president Hadi.

Al Mikhlafi hailed the role of the air raids in paving the way for their victories.

“Some air strikes are decisive and helped us advance,” Al Mikhlafi said.

Al Houthis have been heavily shelling the city. On Sunday, Al Houthi shells landed in Al Hawra hospital, but there were no reports of injuries.

On the humanitarian side, local and international aid organisations have slammed Al Houthis for blocking vital humanitarian aid from reaching the besieged.

On Sunday, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said in a statement that Al Houthis banned their trucks that carry medical supplies from entering the city.

“The hospitals in this besieged area are seeing a large number of patients with war wounds. And yet we have been prevented from delivering essential medical supplies – including chest tubes, anaesthetic drugs, IV fluid, sutures and antibiotics – to help staff provide lifesaving surgery.” says Karline Kleijer, MSF’s emergency manager for Yemen.

Residents reached by the MSF spoke about “restrictions to bring in water, fuel and food supplies. Prices within the besieged area have surged dramatically and people struggle to find enough drinking water,” according to the statement.

In the south, a military source from the Aden-based 4th Military Region denied on Saturday media reports that Colombian commandoes were on their way to Yemen to join Arab forces battling Al Houthi militants, according to Aden Al Ghad, a popular daily newspaper in Aden.

Also in the south, 17 fighters from Southern Resistance were freed from Al Houthis prisons in the latest a prisoner swap with the militants.