At least 68 fighters were killed in two days of fierce battles between Yemeni forces and Houthi rebels near the strategic Bab al-Mandab strait, military officials said on Sunday.
The clashes erupted amid a government assault to recapture the coastal Dhubab district, just 30 kilometres (20 miles) north of Bab al-Mandab which links the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.
At least 55 Houthis were killed and 72 others wounded since the offensive began on Saturday, military and medical sources said.
Clashes also killed 13 loyalists forces, including an army general, Brigadier-General Abdul Aziz al-Majidi, a loyalist commander, told AFP.
Landmines planted by the rebels have slowed down the advance of government forces, military officials said.
The government and its allies in a Saudi-led coalition recaptured Bab al-Mandab strait in October 2015, pushing the rebels further north.
Despite the progress made across other parts of the country, the rebels still control nearly all of Yemen's Red Sea coast to the north, posing what the coalition says is a threat to international shipping.
In September and October, two US warships and a UAE vessel contracted to the coalition were targeted by missile fire from rebel-held territory.
Pro-government troops seized Dhubab in early October 2015, but the rebels managed to recapture the area in February.
The Yemeni conflict has killed more than 10,000 people since the coalition's military intervention began in March 2015, according to the UN.