SANAA, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- A pro-Yemeni government senior commander was killed during fierce battles against dominant Shiite Houthi rebels near the country's Red Sea strait of Bab al-Mandab, a government source said on Saturday.
"Brigadier Omar al-Subaihi, the commander of the 3rd Brigade was killed along with tens of loyalist soldiers during the ferocious fighting against Houthi rebels over the past 24 hours," the official source told Xinhua by phone on condition of anonymity.
The fighting began on Thursday after the government army sent military reinforcements to the 3rd Brigade, with air force cover from the government-backed Saudi-led military coalition, in an attempt to seize control over the eastern parts of the Red Sea city of Dhubab and break the siege on western part of Taiz province, according to the source.
Pro-government media reported that 11 to 17 rebels had been killed in action.
In Oct. 2016, the western part of Dhubab, a city overlooking the strategic Bab al-Mandab strait, was recaptured by the government troops, but Houthi rebels still control the east of the city, including main entrances to the besieged Taiz province.
The Saudi-led coalition has been fighting the dominant Houthi rebel group, which has seized control of most of northern Yemen including the capital Sanaa since Sept. 2014, in order to restore power to the expelled but internationally recognized Yemeni government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Thousands of airstrikes, however, have killed more than 10,000 Yemenis, mostly women and children, and displaced over three million others, without defeating the rebels.