Houthi fighters attend the funeral of their fellow who were killed during the recent clashes in Sanaa, Yemen December 7, 2017. REUTERS /Mohammed Al-Sayaghi
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A Western-backed Arab coalition scored its first major gains in Yemen since former President Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed Monday when local fighters captured an area on the Red Sea coast from Houthi rebels, residents said Thursday.Saleh, who had made common cause with the Houthis after they captured the capital Sanaa in 2014, switched sides in an announcement last week that plunged the country deeper into turmoil.Residents said southern Yemeni fighters and allied local forces took Al-Khoukha district, some 350 kilometers southwest of Sanaa, after heavy fighting over Wednesday night that also involved coalition forces.The sources said the Houthis had demanded that Saleh's body be buried in a family ceremony at his home village of Sanhan, south of Sanaa, while the family was insisting that the Houthis hand over the body without any conditions.The U.S. and U.K.-backed Arab coalition has stepped up airstrikes on Yemen since Saleh's death as Houthi forces have tightened their grip Sanaa.
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