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Pro-government forces seize camp outside Yemen capital

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CAIRO (Reuters) - Yemeni pro-government forces backed by Saudi-led air strikes seized control of a military camp 60km (40 miles) from Sanaa on Thursday, local officials and residents said, as troops advance toward the capital held by Iran-allied fighters.

Forces loyal to Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi are battling the Houthi movement and loyalists of the country’s former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh. The war has killed thousands of people and caused a humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

Since March a mostly Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia has been carrying out air strikes and fighting the Houthis on the ground. Riyadh launched its offensive after the militia, which hails from northern Yemen and adheres to the Zaydi branch of Shi’ite Islam, took over large parts of Yemen and forced the central government to flee into exile.

Pro-government forces seized the Fardhat Nahm camp outside Sanaa in battles with Houthi fighters that left a number of people dead and wounded, local officials and residents said, without giving precise figures.

Aircraft from the Arab coalition carried out dozens of strikes during the battles in the area, they said. The camp is located on one of the defense lines for the capital.

The Houthis rose to dominate Yemeni politics in a matter of months in 2014, becoming the main powerbrokers and seizing control of the capital and government institutions. The movement’s ability to fight this war was significantly bolstered when it became allies with former arch foe Saleh and thousands of fighters loyal to him.

Reporting by Mohammad Ghobari, Writing by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky