Yemeni military officials say pro-government troops, backed by forces from a Saudi-led military coalition, are launching an offensive to retake territory held by Islamic State and al-Qaida forces east of the port city of Aden.

They say Sunday that hundreds of troops are headed to Abyan province to retake the towns of Jaar and Zinjibar, under cover of coalition artillery and naval fire. The officials spoke anonymously because they aren't authorized to brief reporters.

The conflict in Yemen pits the internationally-recognized government and the coalition against Shiite rebels known as Houthis.

The war has left a security vacuum throughout parts of the country. Both al-Qaida and its rival, the Islamic State group, have exploited the turmoil and expanded their footprint in the country's southern region.