Aden ‘liberated’, says Yemen’s vice-president

Forces loyal to the exiled government were supported by a coalition of countries led by Saudi Arabia that bombed rebel positions and destroyed their arms supplies.

Southern resistance fighters react as they prepare to go to the frontline of fighting against Houthi rebels in Yemen's southern port city of Aden July 16. Reuters
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ADEN // Yemen’s internationally-recognised government announced the “liberation” of Aden on Friday after four months of devastating fighting between loyalist forces and Iranian-backed rebels.

“We will work to restore life in Aden and all the liberated cities, to restore water and electricity,” exiled vice president Khaled Bahah said.

Forces loyal to Yemen’s government were supported by a coalition of countries led by Saudi Arabia that bombed Houthi positions and destroyed their arms supplies. Training was provided to some loyalist fighters in Saudi Arabia and airdrops of weapons have also been made.

Saudi Arabia and its allies are supporting loyalist forces with the aim of returning the exiled government to power and diminishing the power of the Houthis, which are allies of Iran.

Along with taking part in the coalition, the UAE has also made wide-ranging efforts to provide aid to the country. More than 21.1 million people – over 80 per cent of Yemen’s population – need aid, with 13 million facing food shortages, while access to water has become difficult for 9.4 million people.

According to the Ministry of Development and International Cooperation, the UAE has provided Dh430 million in aid to Yemen so far this year.

“The UAE was among the first countries to provide all types of relief aid to the brotherly Yemeni people through effective coordination and partnership with Saudi Arabia,” said Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.

Sheikh Mansour said that the UAE wass renewing its regional humanitarian efforts to help Yemenis.

Sheikh Mansour thanked Saudi Arabia for providing facilities to ensure the delivery of the UAE humanitarian aid to the victims of political turmoil in Yemen.

The Houthis and renegade troops loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh had seized control of much of Aden in March, forcing the government into exile in neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

The counteroffensive was carried out by southern militiamen of the Popular Resistance, backed by reinforcements freshly trained and equipped in Saudi Arabia.

Aden was president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi’s last refuge after he fled the capital Sanaa earlier this year as the rebels took over the government and launched an offensive in which they seized much of the rest of the country.

Swaths of the city have been reduced to rubble by the four months of ferocious fighting.

The exiled government’s official news agency announced that loyalist forces had mopped up the last pockets of rebel resistance in the city’s Mualla district on Thursday.

They secured the airport and the surrounding Khormaksar diplomatic district earlier this week.

On the ground, however, witnesses said that rebels were still in control of the Tawahi district of the city.

Clashes are raging on the edges of Muala, which leads into Tawahi, they said.

Pro-Hadi fighters “are trying to advance towards Tawahi but they are facing resistance,” said one witness.

Houthi fighters were also still holding onto their positions in Dar Saad northern neighbourhood and continue to control the northern and eastern entries into Aden, witnesses said.

In a televised speech to mark the Eid Al Fitr holiday, Mr Hadi paid tribute to loyalist fighters and vowed that Aden would be the stepping stone to victory nationwide.

“Aden will be the key to Yemen’s salvation,” Mr Hadi said in the speech broadcast late on Thursday. “From Aden we will regain all of Yemen.”

Four months of fighting and air strikes have killed more than 3,200 people in Yemen.

* With additional reporting by Agence France-Presse and Wam