ADEN, Yemen, June 11 (Xinhua) -- Yemen's Defense Ministry declared Monday that 250 fighters of the Shiite Houthi group were killed in battles with government forces in the country's western coast areas.
The ministry's official website reported that at least "250 Houthi militiamen were killed in battles with Yemeni nationalist forces in the south part of Hodeidah province during the past week."
The Defence Ministry said that more than 20 field commanders of the Houthi group were included in the death toll prepared by senior Saudi-backed Yemeni officials.
The ongoing battles raging over the control of Hodeidah also resulted in the capture of 143 Houthi militiamen, according to the ministry.
Earlier in the day, a military source told Xinhua that the pro-government army was reinforced to prepare for an imminent massive attack against Houthi rebels in Yemen's western port city of Hodeidah.
The source, based in Hodeidah, pointed out that ferocious armed confrontations are currently underway in different areas near the city's main entrances.
The Saudi-led coalition has been fighting the Iranian-allied Houthi rebels since March 2015. More than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the war that also displaced over 3 million and pushed the impoverished country into the brink of famine.
The anti-Houthi Arab coalition has sent hundreds of troops to the Yemeni western coast in preparation for the advancement into Houthi-held Hodeidah, a long-time key military target declared by the coalition.
The Saudi-backed Yemeni forces continued to make ground advancement during the battles with Houthis on Yemen's west coast near the Hodeidah Airport.
Hodeidah is a vital lifeline for the delivery of humanitarian supplies to the Houthi-controlled northern provinces, including the country's capital Sanaa.