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24 Houthi insurgents killed in Yemen Red Sea port clashes

Yemen government troops advance toward the Red Sea coast city of Mokha, Yemen, in this January 23, 2017 photo. (REUTERS/Fawaz Salman)
ADEN, Yemen: Thirty-two combatants were killed Wednesday in the battle for a key coastal town in western Yemen between government forces and Shiite Houthi insurgents, officials said.
The deaths occurred as forces loyal to President Abedrabbo Masnour Hadi advanced into neighborhoods of Mokha and Houthis retreated to northern and western parts of the town, military sources said.
Loyalists backed by the firepower of a Saudi-led Arab coalition entered the strategic port town in late January as part of their efforts to drive the rebels away from the Red Sea coast.
The clashes on Wednesday left dead 24 Houthi insurgents, including 12 whose bodies were taken a hospital in Mokha, medical officials said.
The other 12 were rebels whose remains were found by advancing troops and later buried in Mokha, a loyalist military official said.
Eight soldiers were killed, military and medical officials said.
Mokha was Yemen’s main port serving as its export hub for coffee until it was overtaken by Aden and Hodeida in the 19th century.
Forces supporting Hadi, backed by the coalition, began a major offensive on January 7 to recapture the coastline overlooking the strategic Bab Al-Mandab Strait.
More than 400 combatants have been killed since government forces launched their drive up the Red Sea coastline.

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