Fighters backed by the Arab military coalition have reportedly seized the key city of Zinjibar in southern Yemen, dealing another major blow to the dominant Houthi rebel group.

The capital city of Abyan province on the Arabian Sea had been a major focus of forces battling the Houthis. It is the fourth regional capital they have won since taking control of the port of Aden last month.


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The successful drive to take Zinjibar on Saturday was launched from the northern and southern sides of the city, military sources told the AFP news agency.

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Elsewhere, at least eight civilians were killed in the latest round of fighting in the Houthi-controlled city of Taiz - with heavy shelling reported.

The official United Arab Emirates news agency on Saturday reported the deaths of three Emirati coalition soldiers.

Without saying where or when they were killed, WAM said they died while taking part in "the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia to support the legitimate government in Yemen".

Meanwhile, military sources said at least 22 people, mostly returning civilians, have been killed since Thursday by explosions caused by mines planted by retreating Houthis in Aden and Lahj provinces.

The coalition has been supporting anti-Houthi fighters with air strikes, military training and the delivery of tanks and heavy artillery.


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Gulf-backed southern Yemeni fighters who are based in the southern port of Aden also made gains against the Houthis in heavy fighting in the southern province of Dalea on Saturday.

Aden was the last refuge of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi before he fled into exile with his government in Saudi Arabia in March.

Saudi Arabia and a coalition of other Sunni Muslim states have been fighting since March to restore Yemen's exiled government and to repel the Houthis, who took control of the capital Sanaa in September.

At least two other Emirati soldiers have been killed in Yemen since the offensive began. The UAE has not given details on how any of their personnel died.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies