Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:4AM
A militant fires a machine gun loaded on the back of a Toyota pickup truck in the region of Yakhtul, west of the western Yemeni coastal port town of Mokha, Yemen, on March 16, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
A militant fires a machine gun loaded on the back of a Toyota pickup truck in the region of Yakhtul, west of the western Yemeni coastal port town of Mokha, Yemen, on March 16, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The Yemeni army and allied Houthi fighters have killed at least 100 Saudi-backed militants near the embattled port city of Mukha on the Red Sea coast.

According to Yemen’s Saba Net news website, the militant fatalities came on Wednesday, when Yemeni soldiers fired Katyusha and Qaher-2 missiles at positions of Saudi mercenaries east of Mukha.

Among those killed were a Sudanese commander and two Emirati troops, who were deployed to Yemen as part of a Riyadh-led military coalition helping the militants loyal to the country’s former government.

There were also reports of heavy clashes in the area of al-Mafraq to the east of Mukha as well as the Khalid bin al-Waleed military base in southwestern Ta’izz Province.

Mukha has been the scene of fierce fighting between Yemeni troops and Saudi mercenaries over the past weeks.

The militants claim they are in full control of the strategic port. They are in the middle of an offensive to capture the lengthy Red Sea coastline.

On Tuesday, five Sudanese troops were killed and 22 others wounded in Yemeni counterattacks near the base, according to military sources. Khartoum confirmed the casualties in a rare acknowledgement.

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Saudi-led coalition spokesman General Ahmed Assiri on Wednesday said current operations aim to clear the route east of Mukha towards the flashpoint city of Ta’izz.

“The route between Mukha and Ta’izz should be cleared. On the way, there is Khalid bin al-Waleed military base that has a strong presence” of Houthis and allied forces, he told AFP.

Yemen has been torn by the brutal Saudi military campaign, which was launched in March 2015 with the aim of reinstalling the former government and crushing the Houthi movement.

The campaign, now in its third year, has so far killed over 12,000 civilians, according to the latest tallies by a Yemeni monitoring group.  

The Houthis, supported by the Yemeni army and popular groups, have been defending the country in the face of the Saudi aggression.

The movement has been running state affairs since 2014, when former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi fueled the political crisis in the country by resigning and escaping to Riyadh.