Cairo: Yemeni government troops have made “strategic” advances against Al Houthis in the Iran-aligned extremists’ stronghold of Saada, the Yemeni army has said.

Supported by an Arab coalition, the government forces mounted on Tuesday a surprise attack against Al Houthi militiamen in the far northern province of Saada near the border with Saudi Arabia, the army’s media centre has said.

The offensive resulted in liberating large tracts in the front of Al Mazruk in south-western Saada after fierce fighting against the militants, according to the report.

A number of armed Al Houthis were killed and injured in the clashes,

Al Marzuk is strategically important as it links Saada to the province of Hajjah in north-western Yemen.

In recent months, government troops, aided by the coalition air power, have stepped their campaigns against Al Houthis in different parts of Yemen amid a stalemate in UN peace efforts.

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 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.