At least 80 pro-government and Houthi militia troops have been killed in fighting since last week in northwest Yemen near the border with Saudi Arabia, military sources said on Monday.
The clashes began on Thursday when government forces launched an offensive aimed at retaking the towns of Haradh and Midi in Haja province on the border.
“At least 48 Shiite Houthi militants and forces loyal to (ex-president) Ali Abdullah Saleh were killed” in the fighting, said one of the sources.
Thirty-four soldiers of the UN-recognized government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi were also killed, a pro-government source said.
Most of the soldiers were killed in explosions of land mines planted by the militias, he said, adding that dozens were wounded on both sides.
Hadi’s forces had succeeded in retaking a border post at the entrance of Haradh and pushing toward the town center, another military source said.
The offensive aims to advance on Houthi-held Sanaa from the west after government forces have so far failed to enter the capital from the east.
It comes as the Yemeni rivals hold UN-brokered peace talks in Kuwait that have so far failed to end the conflict that has killed more than 6,400 people since March last year.
Yemen has been wracked by chaos since late 2014, when the Houthis and their allies overran Sanaa and other parts of the country, forcing President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and his Saudi-backed government to temporarily flee to Riyadh. Saudi soldiers
The Saudi-led coalition began a military campaign against Iran-backed Houthi militias in March 2015. It sides with the President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, while the Houthis are aligned with ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was ousted after Yemen revolution in 2012.