Militants loyal to Yemen's President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi take positions in Taiz, Yemen, on March, 30, 2015. Hadi loyalists, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, have gained control over several southern Yemeni provinces, capturing Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province, on August 9, 2015. Photo by Anees Mahyoub/UPI | License Photo
ZINJIBAR, Yemen, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- Forces loyal to Yemen's exiled president on Sunday captured from Houthi rebels multiple cities in the country's south, including the capital of the Abyan province.
The city of Zinjibar fell to pro-government forces, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, after days of fighting.
Xinhua news agency quoted a statement by a pro-government commander, which said "popular resistance and national army backed by tanks supplied by the Saudi-led Arab coalition managed in the early hours of Sunday to seize control of the 15th military brigade and all government buildings" in the city.
Pro-government troops first entered Zinjibar after overrunning a Houthi barracks, which the Saudi-led coalition hit with airstrikes. The BBC quoted Aden health chief Al-Khader Laswar as saying at least 19 people were killed and more than 150 injured.
Pro-government forces also seized the towns of al-Hazm and al-Odain, in southern Yemen's Ibb province, after hours of fighting that began Saturday morning, a pro-government spokesman told Xinhua.
Overnight fighting in Taiz, meanwhile, has reportedly left 33 Houthis and 12 pro-government fighters dead, with another 38 injured.
Over the past two weeks, pro-government forces have gained control of the Lahej, Aden and Dhalee provinces, all in Yemen's south.
Officials with the United Arab Emirates say three of its soldiers have been killed in the fighting.
Last week an armored brigade from the UAE is reported to have landed in the southern port of Aden, which fell to pro-government forces last month.
The force was joined by Saudi special operations, intelligence and logistics personnel, as well as trained Yemeni fighters, an Arab coalition source told Defense News.
The UAE joins Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan and Egypt, in the Saudi-led coalition against the Houthis.
Soon after landing in Aden, coalition troops are reported to have helped capture the al-Anad base, in southern Yemen's Lahej province.
Yemeni officials have also said Saudi, Emirati, Egyptian and Jordanian advisers are training pro-Hadi fighters at a base near Aden.
Yemen's civil war pits the Shia-affiliated Houthis, from the country's north, against Hadi's Sunni-dominated government. The Houthis, who accused the Hadi government of marginalization, captured most of the country earlier this year, forcing Hadi into exile in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi-led coalition then formed against the rebels, whom it accuses Iran of supporting militarily. Iran has denied the charge.
According to the United Nations, the conflict has killed at least 4,000 people since March, when the coalition began bombing the Houthis.