Aden hit by coalition airstrikes amid fierce street battles

AP News
Posted: Apr 25, 2015 1:31 PM
Aden hit by coalition airstrikes amid fierce street battles

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Saudi-led coalition warplanes launched dozens of airstrikes on Yemen's southern port city of Aden Saturday, as Shiite Houthi rebels and their allies mobilized hundreds of reinforcements in an effort to wrest control of the city from militias supporting embattled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, security officials and eyewitnesses said.

The officials said opposing fighters faced off in fierce street battles in the Aden neighborhoods of Khour Makser and Dar Saad as the Houthis try to gain a foothold in the districts.

"The planes were carrying out airstrikes every 10 minutes and continued throughout the night," said Aden resident Mohammed al-Kheir.

Eyewitness Fahmy al-Salal said coalition airstrikes in Aden overnight on Friday killed scores of Houthis and their allies — security personnel loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. He said the dead were buried in the morning with the assistance of local residents.

Saudi Arabia had announced on Tuesday that it was entering a new phase in its campaign against the Houthis, who captured Yemen's capital last year. The air campaign is aimed at rolling back the rebels and restoring Hadi, a close U.S. ally who fled to Saudi Arabia last month. The coalition of countries led by Saudi Arabia began conducting airstrikes against rebel positions on March 26.

Western governments and the Sunni Arab countries in the coalition say the Houthis are being armed and financed by Shiite powerhouse Iran. Tehran and the rebels deny that, although the Islamic Republic has provided political and humanitarian support to the Shiite group.

Medical officials said at least six pro-Hadi fighters were killed and 30 injured in the fighting in Aden Saturday.

A security official said that living conditions in Aden are deteriorating, with most shops closed due to a lack of bread, flour and fuel.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

The cities of Taiz and Dhale also saw violent clashes on Saturday.