Fighters loyal to Yemen's President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi sit in a pick up truck on December 21, 2015 in the city of Ataq, the capital of the province of Shabwa, east of the Red Sea port of Aden. A fresh bout of deadly fighting and air strikes hit Yemen, despite an extended ceasefire that was supposed to come into force overnight, military sources said. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: Yemeni forces backed by a Saudi-led Arab coalition landed by sea at the Red Sea port of Maydi near the border with Saudi Arabia late on Wednesday, residents said, opening up a new front in a nine-month-old civil war.

Northern Yemen is a stronghold of the Iranian-allied Al Houthi militants, who have seized large parts of Yemen including the capital from forces loyal to Yemen’s legitimate and internationally recognised president, Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Government forces attempted to push from Maydi’s port, pounded for weeks by air strikes and naval shelling, into the surrounding city, but ran into fierce Al Houthi fighting and landmines, residents told Reuters by telephone.

Major General Adel Qumairi of the pro-government forces told Saudi-owned Arabiya TV that his forces had “completely taken control” of the city.

Residents of Sana’a reported over 30 Saudi-led air strikes overnight on Al Houthi targets, in one of the capital’s fiercest aerial bombardments of the war.

In Taiz, government and coalition forces were able to liberate Al Jahmaliya and Tha’abat areas in the east of the city. Twelve Al Houthis were killed and dozens injured during the fierce battles. As a result, Al Houthi militants indiscrimately bombed residential areas of the city.

A coalition led by Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies has been fighting Al Houthi militants since March in an effort to repel what it sees as creeping influence by the group’s ally, Iran.

Arab states have repeatedly accused Iran in meddling in the internal affairs of other Arab countries. Saudi Arabia and Iran are currently witnessing a new low in their ties as Riyadh severed ties with Tehran over the ransacking of its missions by Iranian rioters on Saturday.

The Saudi spokesman for the coalition, Brigadier General Ahmad Asiri, told Al Arabiya that an Al Houthi ballistic missile aimed at the kingdom overnight had exploded on launch.

Saudi Arabia on Saturday announced the end of a UN-brokered ceasefire on Saturday citing repeated Al Houthi violations.

On Monday, government forces retook Aden’s strategic port after heavy clashes with militants who had seized it earlier over the weekend. Al Qaida and other militants have been using the port for lucrative smuggling operations.

Al Qaida and Daesh-linked militants have exploited the chaos of the country’s civil war to expand its footprint in southern Yemen.

According to UN figures, the war in Yemen has killed at least 5,884 people since March, when fighting escalated after the Saudi-led coalition began launching air strikes targeting Al Houthi militants.