SANAA, Yemen, At least 17 Yemeni soldiers and 31 Houthi rebels were killed, during clashes and air strikes over the past three days, near the Yemeni-Saudi western border, a military source said.

The casualties took place when government troops, backed by war planes from a Saudi-led military coalition, launched a major offensive against Houthi positions in the Red Sea port city of Medi and nearby Haradh district.

The attack was launched by Yemeni government forces, backed by Saudi border artillery forces, with more than 20 air strikes against Houthi positions in al-Kadif, in southern Medi and in al-Hajawirah and al-Majbar.

"Bodies of Houthis were still lying on some of the targeted positions, while several other injured were taken as war prisoners," the source said, but he declined to identify the number of Houthi prisoners.

He said, the attack aimed to recapture Houthi-held areas and advance towards the coasts, north of the strategic Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.

A Houthi spokesman could not be reached for comment, but Houthi official media reported, around 20 coalition's air strikes on Medi and Haradh took place over the past 72 hours, but mentioned no casualties.

Yemen's internationally-backed government, allied with the Saudi-led Arab military coalition, has for more than two years been battling Iran-backed Shiite Houthi rebels over control of the country.

UN statistics show more than 10,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed since the coalition intervened in the Yemeni civil war that also displaced around three million.

The impoverished Arab country is also suffering the world's largest cholera epidemic since Apr, with about 5,000 cases reported every day.


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