Al Mukalla: Yemeni forces waged a fresh offensive on Monday aimed at driving Al Houthis out of their last bastion in the Marib province.

Government officials and army commanders speaking to Gulf News say the assault was backed by heavy air support from the Saudi-led Arab coalition, which is fighting to restore the internationally-recognised government of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi to power.

Yemeni forces recaptured three mountains in the early hours of the offensive after heavy clashes with Iran-backed Al Houthi militants and forces loyal to ousted Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The two groups, who were once foes, have formed an unlikely alliance.

“The national army and resistance forces attacked Al Houthi militants and Saleh’s forces in Serwah, their last stronghold in western Marib,” an official close to the governor of Marib told Gulf News on the condition of anonymity.

The town has been under Al Houthi control since their takeover of many parts of the country in 2015.

The official said with recent gains on the ground, Serwah could soon be liberated. He said the forces engaged in fighting had received expert military training.

“The men are equipped with modern arms and are receiving logistical support from the coalition’s officers on the ground,” he said.

Local army commanders say one of the goals of Monday’s offensive is to secure the city of Marib from coming under Al Houthi missile range as they had been firing Katyusha rockets into the city.

Four government soldiers were killed on Monday by the rocket fire. Embedded journalist, Fahad Al Ayal, was also injured while covering the clashes.

The oil and gas rich province of Marib has become a military base for thousands of government and coalition forces that are fighting on the front lines in northern Yemen provinces, mainly Sana’a, Jawf and Shabwa.

Meanwhile, in the southern city of Taiz, residents said that two civilians, including a woman, were killed and seven others injured when Al Houthi rebels shelled residential areas in the densely-populated city.

Two resistance fighters and three Al Houthi militants were killed in clashes on Sunday.

In Aden, three Al Qaida militants were arrested in the Mansoura district, the latest in a string of successful raids on the militants’ hiding places in south Yemen.

One of the men arrested was a personal aide to Jalal Baleedi, a senior Al Qaida field commander who was killed in a drone strike in the southern province of Abyan.

The other militants were said to be explosive experts.