Saudi-backed Yemeni militiamen captured Aden’s main port and a neighbouring district on Wednesday, a big prize in their battle to drive Houthi forces from the southern city, residents and fighters said.
Coming a day after the fighters wrested the city’s airport and another district from the Houthis, the advance has dealt the biggest setback yet to the Iran-allied Houthis in more than three months of war that has killed more than 3,000 people.
Houthi forces withdrew from the port and the neighbouring Mualla district. On Wednesday afternoon they were locked in heavy clashes with militiamen trying to seize an area called Crater, residents said, using intense sniper fire from volcanic crags which overlook the seaside metropolis.
Medics said dozens of combatants and civilians had been killed in the last two days of fighting and the main hospital made an urgent appeal for blood donations. Saudi Arabia and other Arab states have been bombing the Houthis and their allies from the air since March 26 in the hope of reinstating Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, an ally of Saudi Arabia who fled into exile in Riyadh.
The Houthis say their takeover of the capital Sanaa in September and armed push into Yemen’s south and east in March and April are part of a revolution against a corrupt government and hardline Sunni militants. Residents said scores of southern fighters were in the streets of Aden fighting on Wednesday as part of the offensive dubbed “Operation Golden Arrow”.
A Reuters witness saw about 40 armoured vehicles, which the militiamen said were provided by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and were vital for their battle to win back control of the airport. Residents said scores of fighters amassed at the entrance of Mualla in the morning and heavy exchanges of gunfire erupted with Houthi forces, who were pushed over the course of several hours into Tawahi district.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2015.
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