ADEN\UNITED NATIONS - Pro-government forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition retook Yemen's biggest airbase from Iran-backed rebels on Tuesday in a significant new gain after recapturing second city Aden last month.

Their seizure of Al-Anad base in a 24-hour assault using heavy armour supplied by the coalition came after hundreds of Gulf Arab troops landed in Aden to bolster the loyalist fightback. Hailing victory in the battle for Al-Anad, the defence ministry vowed no let-up in the war against the Huthi rebels and their allies until the authority of exiled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi was restored over the whole country.

The airbase, 60 kilometres (40 miles) north of Aden, is strategically located on the main road north towards both the battleground third city of Taez and rebel-held capital Sanaa. The vast complex housed US troops overseeing a drone war against Al-Qaeda in Yemen until shortly before the rebels overran it in March. Its loss is a major blow to the insurgents, whose leader Abdulmalik al-Huthi claimed just Sunday that their ouster from Aden after four months of ferocious fighting was merely a "short-term" setback that would be reversed.

The loyalists swiftly pushed on from Al-Anad on Tuesday, attacking the rebel-held Labouza army camp 10 kilometres further north, military sources said.

To the south, pro-government forces also advanced on Huta, the capital of Lahj province, and retook several public buildings and the marketplace, the sources added. Pro-government sources said that the rebels lost 70 dead and 10 captured in the fighting for Al-Anad. The loyalists suffered 24 dead and 23 wounded.

Nearly 100,000 people have fled Yemen since conflict broke out there in late March but the UNHCR's regional response to this outflow is just one fifth funded, a UN refugee agency spokesperson said Tuesday. “With funding also low for operations inside Yemen, UNHCR is concerned that delivery of assistance there, as well as to refugees fleeing the country, will be at risk without additional funding soon,” spokesperson Adrian Edwards told a press briefing in Geneva.

UNHCR requires $105.6 million for its emergency response inside Yemen. It has only received about 23 per cent of that. Some 1.2 million internally displaced people and approximately 250,000 refugees continue to need assistance in extremely challenging conditions with severely restricted access, UNHCR noted. The conflict continues to cause death, injuries and damage to homes and infrastructure. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported Tuesday that the civilian death toll in Yemen has risen to at least 1,916, with another 4,186 civilians wounded since the escalation of the armed conflict in March.

Also, over the past few weeks, there have been two “particularly devastating” attacks in residential areas, according to spokesperson Cecile Pouilly. On 19 July, 95 civilians, including 29 children, were killed and 198 injured in Aden in the Al Ghaleel Residential Area, which is home to members of the Al-Muhamasheen community, a marginalized group in Yemen.

Then on 24 July, at least 73 civilians, including 11 children, were killed and 93 injured, when two residential compounds in Taiz were hit. The compounds housed the families of workers of Al Mokha Steam Power Plant. According to eyewitness, the residential compounds were hit by nine missiles. OHCHR is working on verifying reports of the source of the attacks.

“We are also deeply concerned about attacks against civilian infrastructure, including places of worship, hospitals and schools.” Ms Pouilly told reporters. “We urge all parties, again, to ensure that they, at all times, distinguish between civilian and military targets, comply with the principle of proportionality when conducting military operations and take all feasible precautions to avoid, and in any event to minimise, the impact of violence on civilians.”