Cairo: Yemeni government forces, supported by a Saudi-led Arab coalition, said on Saturday they had liberated the town of Qataba in the south province of Dhale from Iran-aligned Al Houthi militants.

The strategically important town was recaptured Friday from the militants after they suffered heavy casualties and material losses in battles, the government forces added.

“The Yemeni forces are now carrying out massive mop-op operations in Qataba,” field commanders said.

Qataba is strategically crucial as it controls main roads in the area.

In recent weeks, forces loyal to the internationally-recognised government have stepped up a campaign against Al Houthis in Dhale. Around 480 Al Houthi militants have been killed and hundreds injured in 10 days of fighting on different fronts of Dhale, the Yemeni army said.

Sixty other Al Houthis, including field commanders, have also been captured.

Yemen’s conflict erupted after Al Houthis unseated the government of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and overran parts of the country, including the capital Sana’a, in December 2014.

In March, 2015, an Arab alliance led by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, intervened in Yemen in response to a request from the Hadi government after Al Houthis advanced on the southern city of Adan, the country’s provisional capital.

Last week, Al Houthis claimed an attack by explosive drones against some oil installations in neighbouring Saudi Arabia amid mounting tensions between the US and Iran.