Clashes and air strikes in southwest Yemen have killed more than 40 soldiers, rebels and civilians over the past 24 hours, officials and medics said on Monday.
Warplanes from the Saudi-led Arab coalition have pounded Houthi rebel positions east of the Red Sea port of Mokha and other areas of Taez province since Sunday, a military official said.
Clashes raged after the air raids in the Jabal al Nar area east of Mokha and north of the city on the road to Hodeida, Yemen's main Red Sea port, the official said.
At least 17 rebels were killed in the air strikes and fighting, medical sources in rebel-held Hodeida said.
The coalition-backed government said Hodeida is its next target in a months-long offensive aimed at pushing the Iran-backed rebels away from the country's lengthy Red Sea coastline.
The Yemeni government and its allies are targeting Hodeida port because they say the Houthis use it to smuggle weapons and ammunition.
But the United Nations and humanitarian groups warn that targeting the port, which has been the entry of nearly 80 percent of Yemen's food imports, could have serious humanitarian consequences for the country on the brink of famine.
“The port is located in a densely populated urban centre where thousands of people live; and any military campaign in its vicinity, from the ground or air, would have devastating civilian consequences," the Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen warned.
Another 11 rebels were killed in air strikes on Kamran island and a base in Hodeida itself, the medical sources said.
Ten soldiers were also killed and 15 were wounded in the confrontations, said medical sources in Aden, the temporary base of the government as Sana'a remains under rebel control.
Meanwhile, three civilians were killed and two others were wounded on Monday in a bombing that targeted the convoy of General Ali Muqbel Saleh, commander of the 33rd Armoured Brigade, in Daleh city, a security official said.
A medical source in Daleh confirmed the toll.
The conflict pits the armed Houthi group against the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The war escalated in March 2015 when the Arab coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, intervened in support of the president.
The UN estimates that more than 7,700 people have been killed over the past two years and more than 40,000 wounded in impoverished Yemen which faces a serious risk of famine this year.
The UN says nearly 3.3 million people, including 2.1 million children, are acutely malnourished.