At least 66 people were killed and more than 70 people were wounded in Yemen on Sunday after amid fresh violent clashes between pro-government forces and rebels, medics and security sources told AFP on Monday. The toll rose as the pro-government forces pushed to oust rebels from a key stretch of coastline in the region.

Reports state that Sunday’s air strikes, led by a Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting rebel forces near the strategic Bab al-Mandab strait killed at least 52 fighters of the Shiite Houthi rebels and allied troops loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Fourteen members of forces loyal to president-in-exile Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi (pro-government forces) also died in the fighting.

A vast offensive was launched on January 7 by the troops loyal President Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi to recapture the Dhubab district overlooking the Bab al-Mandab strait, which is an important strategic maritime route that connects the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.

Military sources told AFP that Apache attack helicopters and coalition warplanes have been pounding rebels in support of pro-Hadi forces advancing towards the Red Sea city of Mokha. Spokespersons for the pro-government forces said that while loyalist forces were within 10 kilometres (six miles) outside of Mokha city, but the offensive considerably slowed on Monday due to explosive mines laid out by rebels.

Conflict in Yemen. Photo Courtesy:-(AFP Photo)

A medical source reports state that the rebels took their dead and injured to a military hospital in Hodeida. The hospital received 14 dead fighters on Saturday and 38 more on Sunday. Currently there are 55 injured rebels being treated at the medical facility. On the pro-government side, at least 14 soldiers were killed and 22 more were injured, according to the medics in the southern port city of Aden.

The Yemen Civil War (Saudi-led coalition) began in March 2015 between two factions which claimed that they constituted the Yemeni government – the government of Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi in Aden and the Houthi forces allied with the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s forces in Yemeni Capital Sana’a. The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that more than 7,400 people have been killed ever since the coalition intervention began in the region.

United Nations (UN) peace envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed arrived in Sana’a (Yemeni Capital) on Sunday for potential ceasefire talks (to restore peace in the region) and plans to push for a deal which would lead to a political transition in the country. The United Nations (UN) said, more than 10,000 people have died and three million have been displaced since the conflict in Yemen got involved into the country’s full-scale civil war almost two years ago. The fighting has also exacerbated hunger and disease in the Middle East’s poorest country.