SANAA - Iranian-allied fighters controlling much of Yemen said on Friday air strikes led by Saudi Arabia killed 43 people in the central city of Taiz.

Taiz has become the latest focus of fighting for supporters of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who was driven into exile in Saudi Arabia by the Houthi fighters. Medical sources said Houthi attacks on the city killed 13 people, including seven children.

Reuters was not immediately able to independently verify the information on either side. There was no immediate comment from officials from the Saudi-led coalition.

The Saba news agency run by the Houthis said the Saudi-led air raids late on Thursday targeted Taiz’s republican palace and the city’s Sala neighborhood, which has a dense population of the Houthi group that dominates northern Yemen.

It said 50 people had been injured and some of the 43 killed were found dead in the ruins of buildings destroyed by the bombing in Sala.

Meanwhile, local officials told Reuters that Houthi fighters fired mortars at Taiz’s Asifrah neighbourhood and al-Masbah, east of the city, in a bid to drive out Hadi’s supporters. They said the shelling destroyed a main power plant in the city.

Gains by the pro-Hadi forces have put them in control of parts of the city, located between the Houthi dominated north and the south, where Hadi supporters have been cheered by several strategic gains in the past month.

The southern port city of Aden was retaken from the Houthis last month with the help of heavy Arab air strikes and weapons deliveries. The Houthis, however, still hold the capital Sanaa.

The Saudi-led alliance began its air strikes in late March when the Houthis entered Aden.

The civil war has killed more than 4,300 people and left diplomats and air groups appealing for a ceasefire to spare civilians and alleviate a mounting humanitarian disaster.

Meanwhile, three suspected Al-Qaeda militants were killed on Friday in an apparent US drone strike in Marib province, east of the capital Sanaa, tribal sources said. The three were riding in a vehicle that was struck at dawn by a missile in the desert region of Harib, the sources said.

The United States is the only country known to operate armed drones over Yemen, and strikes have continued on suspected militants even as the country has been battered by months of fighting between pro- and anti-government forces.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), viewed by Washington as the extremist network’s most dangerous branch, has taken advantage of the chaos to seize the southern port city of Mukalla, capital of the vast desert Hadramawt province.

Meanwhile, a commercial ship docked Friday in Aden, a port official said, the first vessel of its kind to reach the southern Yemeni city since it was overrun by anti-government rebels in March.

The Venus, operated by United Arab Shipping Co., had a cargo of 350 containers of products ordered by businesses in Aden, which was retaken by pro-government forces last month, said port deputy director Aref al-Shaabi.

“This signals the return of life to the port of Aden and this will benefit the city and southern provinces” also retaken by loyalist troops in recent weeks, Shaabi told AFP.

Huthi rebels and troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh attacked Aden in March after taking the capital Sanaa unopposed last year.

Their advance south prompted Yemen’s President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee to Riyadh and sparked a Saudi-led aerial bombing campaign on rebel targets across the country.

In recent weeks, bolstered by what military sources said was heavy equipment and troops provided by the coalition, as well as Yemeni fighters trained in Saudi Arabia, pro-government forces have retaken Aden, as well four other southern provinces from the rebels. The loyalists are currently battling anti-government forces for control of Yemen’s third city, Taez, which has been described as the gateway to the rebel-held capital.

Shaabi said other ships were expected in Aden, Yemen’s main port, in the coming days.

Since the city’s recapture, several transport planes carrying humanitarian aid have landed at the city’s repaired airport.

In addition, there have been several passenger flights into Aden, allowing some residents to return home after having fled the violence.

But fighting rages on across much of the country, and world powers have voiced particular concern this week over Saudi-led air strikes and shelling in the western port city of Hodeida.

The European Union on Thursday joined UN and US criticism of the attacks on Hodeida, a vital point of entry for relief supplies.

Washington said the strikes seemingly targeted Huthi rebels but also reportedly killed dock workers and damaged infrastructure.

“The recent air strikes and shelling of Hodeida port facilities have created an additional and immediate obstacle to the import of food, fuel, medicines and other critical goods,” the EU said.

The United Nations says the war in Yemen has killed nearly 4,500 people, many of them civilians.