Al Mukalla: Forces loyal to the internationally-recognised president have taken control of a strategic border region in the northern province of Saada after heavy clashes with the rebel forces, local army commanders and tribal leaders said on Monday.

Saleh Qaroush, a tribal leader from Saada, told Gulf News from the liberated area that government loyalists expelled Al Houthis from Mandabah region, a strategic hilly area that overlooks the Saudi Raboah region and the Yemeni side of the border.

“We have completely liberated Mandabah and arrested six Al Houthis,” he said.

Yemen government forces with the help of heavy air support from the Saudi-led coalition advanced into Al Houthis heartland, Saada, in October and took control of Al Bouga border crossing with Saudi Arabia in the east of Saada.

Earlier this month, government forces opened a new front in northern Saada after marching into the province from the Saudi side of Alab border crossing.

Qaroush said bodies of 25 Al Houthis had been left behind in the battlefield along with rebel a huge number of landmines to slow down government forces advances.

“We appeal to the International Red Crescent to visit Mandabah and retrieve the bodies of Al Houthis,” he said.

Military experts predicted the Iran-backed rebels would have put up stiffer fighting as the government forces fight their way towards the province’s capital, Saada city.

In the southern city of Taiz, heavy clashes erupted on Sunday night when Al Houthi fighters launched an intense machine gun attack on government forces in the hilly air defense brigade on the western edges of the city.

Colonel Mansour Al Hassani, a spokesperson for the Supreme Military Council in Taiz, told Gulf News that the government forces were forced into retreating from the brigade under heavy Al Houthi fire.

“Their offensive lasted for hours, but we managed to regain control of the brigade in the early hours of Monday,” he said.

The brigade is strategic as it overlooks two major supply routes for Al Houthi forces.

Since last year, hundreds of people have been killed in Taiz, either from clashes, mortar attacks or as a result of crippling siege imposed on the city by Al Houthi rebels.

Meanwhile in Aden, residents began burying dozens of security forces who were killed in Daesh suicide attack on Sunday.

Aden Al Ghad, an independent news site based in the city, said the operative behind the blst was Majed Faris Ali Al Fakih from the Radfan district in the Lahej province.

The militants recruited the young man two years ago when he settled in the province’s capital, a former stronghold of Al Qaida.