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Iranian officers interrogated Yemeni gov’t loyalists in Houthi detention: source | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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People walk at the site of Monday’s car bomb attack in Yemen’s capital Sana’a on July 21, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

People walk at the site of Monday's car bomb attack in Yemen's capital Sana'a on July 21, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

People walk at the site of Monday’s car bomb attack in Yemen’s capital Sana’a on July 21, 2015. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

Sana’a and Aden, Asharq Al-Awsat—Iranian officers were directly involved in the interrogation of Yemeni government loyalists previously detained by Houthi rebels in Aden, anti-rebel sources say.

A pro-government fighter, who was previously arrested by the Houthis in Aden, said he had been interrogated by an Iranian officer who used a translator. The Iranian interrogator questioned him about the number of forces loyal to President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in Aden, their location and the type of weapons they had.

The Yemeni fighter, who preferred to remain anonymous, fled his Houthi captors with his hands tied after clashes erupted between the Houthis and government loyalists, known as the Popular Resistance, in Aden last week.

Loyalists of Yemen’s exiled government, backed by Saudi-led coalition forces, captured the strategic city of Aden last week in the biggest setback for the Iran-backed Houthis.

Resistance militants have surrounded a building in central Aden where a senior Houthi leader and dozens of his guards have taken refuge, a Popular Resistance source said.

The senior Houthi, believed to be Abdul-Khaliq Al-Houthi, took refuge in a building in the central Al-Tawahi district after he sustained a serious injury during violent clashes with Saudi-backed forces earlier this week.

Among those besieged are Iranian officers and personnel from the Yemeni Republican Guard many of whose members are loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, according to the source.

“We have taken two Houthi fighters captive and persuaded one of them to inform his fellow insurgents about our demand for surrender,” the source said.

He added: “We placed the [Houthi] prisoner near where the Houthis are holed up to call on them to surrender through a megaphone. But they answered that we [Hadi’s forces] were the ones who had to surrender.”

The besieged Houthis shot dead the arrested rebel after his call for surrender, the source said.

Military forces aligned with Hadi deployed in Al-Buraiqeh district, in southern Aden, on Tuesday as Saudi-led airstrikes pounded the remaining rebel pockets in the area, a Popular Resistance source said. The heavily equipped forces will contribute to consolidating power in Aden as part of “Operation Golden Arrow” that led to the capture of the strategic city from Houthis last week.

Meanwhile, Hadi loyalists on Tuesday continued their push against Lahej province, located to the north of Aden and home to the Houthi-held Al-Anad Air Base, Yemen’s largest.

The Saudi-backed forces, according to the source, now control around 90 percent of the mountains and hilltops overlooking the air base and are around 200 meters away from rebels’ positions.

In western Yemen, anti-rebel forces on Tuesday gained ground in western Taiz, the country’s third largest, activists and media said.

After fierce clashes with the Houthis, government loyalists seized the area near Taiz central prison, bringing them closer to the main road that links Al-Mokha city to the west and Al-Hudayadah province.

Mohamed Ali Mohsen contributed additional reporting from Aden.