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Yemeni president returns to Aden from exile
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Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi (2L) arrives at an airbase adjoining the civilian airport in Yemen's war-ravaged southern city of Aden on September 22, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / STR)

Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi (2L) arrives at an airbase adjoining the civilian airport in Yemen’s war-ravaged southern city of Aden on September 22, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / STR)

Aden, Asharq Al-Awsat—Yemen’s President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi returned to Aden on Tuesday for the first time since he was forced to flee to Saudi Arabia six months ago.

Hadi’s plane arrived from Riyadh under Saudi and Emirati protection, an airport official told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Speaking to reporters at the city’s airport, Hadi promised he will return to Sana’a soon once it is liberated from the Houthi militants who, backed by loyalists to Yemen’s former ousted president Ali Abdulla Saleh, took over large parts of the country, including the capital, in September last year.

Yemen’s Prime Minister and Vice President Khaled Bahah and several cabinet members returned to Aden last week after government loyalists, known as the Popular Resistance, and Saudi-led forces, drove the Houthis from the strategic southern city.

According to analysts, Hadi’s return to Aden “represents a major push forward” for the Yemeni government which is expected to address what they described as an “exceptional situation” in Aden and the newly liberated parts of the country.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Zaid Al-Salami, a Yemeni political activist and member of the national dialogue, said the return of President Hadi and his prime Minister to Aden “carries a significant message that the Yemeni state has triumphed over chaos and destruction.”

Salami said that Hadi’s return should be followed by steps aimed at “restoring state institutions and normalizing life in the liberated cities as well as retaking the remaining ones from the Houthis.”

Hadi has said efforts to rebuild the liberated areas are underway.

A government official said Hadi would spend the Muslim festival of Eid Al-Adha in Aden before flying to New York to address the UN.

Riyadh Yassin, Yemen’s Foreign Minister, told Sky News Arabia TV on Tuesday that Hadi’s address to the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly confirms the legitimacy of the Yemeni government.

Meanwhile, coalition spokesman Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asiri said Tuesday two Saudi soldiers were arrested by the Houthis after “they lost their way in Yemeni territory.”

Asiri accused the Houthis of violating the Geneva Convention for releasing footage of the two soldiers in captivity, and held the rebels accountable for protecting their lives.

“We will do everything we can to locate and bring them back to Saudi Arabia as soon as possible,” Asiri said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia launched an aerial campaign to bomb the Houthis in Yemen in late March shortly after the Iran-allied rebels entered Aden where Hadi had established a temporary base, prompting the internationally recognized president to flee to Riyadh.