Fighters backing Yemen's exiled government have reportedly captured Dhale, a city on the road to the port city of Aden, in their first significant victory against Shia Houthis since an Arab coalition began its air campaign.

The developments came as the Arab coalition carried out air strikes on Tuesday on at least five cities, including the capital Sanaa, and Aden, at present a Houthi stronghold.

Elsewhere, one Saudi soldier was killed and three others were wounded in fighting along Saudi Arabia's border with Yemen near Asir, according to a statement by the kingdom's interior ministry.

Dhale is significant as it is home to the command centre of the 33rd Armoured Brigade, the country's largest unit that had been loyal to former Yemeni leader Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Saleh has backed the Iran-allied Houthis in their campaign across Yemen that began in September.

Government-allied fighters seized tanks, rocket launchers and ammunition caches from the Dhale base, about 120km from Aden, officials of the exiled government told Associated Press news agency.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to the media.

Footage from Dhale aired on Al Arabiya TV station showed fighters in an armoured vehicle flying the flag of the once-independent South Yemen.

The fighters, though allied with exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, also want an independent southern state in the country, which was unified in 1990.

Disaster zone

Dozens of fighters on both sides have been killed in intense clashes around Dhale in the past fortnight, and clashes between the two sides erupted on Tuesday on the city's outskirts, officials said.

Hadi's government in exile has declared several provinces of Yemen disaster zones where all basic services have collapsed.

Yemenis in Aden and other cities face severe shortages of fuel, water, medicine and food due to the ongoing conflict [AP]

Due to the violence and a sea-and-air blockade, most Yemenis face severe shortages of fuel, water, medicine and food.

Also on Tuesday, seven members of the same family were killed in an overnight air strike on a border village in northern Yemen, residents told Reuters news agency.

Residents of al-Mohssam village, in Hajjah province, said two children and five men and women were killed in their home.

Meanwhile, in a new report, Oxfam, the international humanitarian group, has warned that up to 16 million people in Yemen do not have access to clean water.

"This is equivalent to the populations of Berlin, London, Paris and Rome combined, all rotting under heaps of garbage in the streets, broken sewage pipes and without clean water for the seventh-consecutive week," Oxfam's Grace Ommer said.

 

Source: Agencies