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Pro-Government Fighters Seize Southern Yemeni Province from Houthis

Shabwa, Yemen
Shabwa, Yemen

Fighters backing the exiled Yemeni government have seized the southern province of Shabwa from Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

Yemeni military officials said Saturday that the rebels pulled out of Shabwa after handing over control of the provincial capital, Ataq. No casualty numbers were available.

Saudi Arabia, which has been leading Arab coalition airstrikes against the Houthis, has been pouring heavy weapons into southern Yemen to help pro-government fighters.

Anti-rebel forces have made some recent major gains against the Houthis, including taking back the major port of Aden, the entry point for desperately needed humanitarian aid to Yemen.

But the Houthis are still in charge of the capital, Sana'a, and control or have a heavy military presence in much of the north.

The fighting on the ground and the Saudi-led airstrikes have killed more than 4,000 people and have led to a humanitarian disaster in Yemen. The United Nations says 80 percent of the population is in dire need of food and medical help.

Diplomatic efforts to being peace to Yemen and restore the government of President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi have failed.