Aden and Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Yemeni government loyalists said on Monday they had seized control of Aden’s central Al-Tawahi district, the last remaining rebel stronghold in the southern city, following fierce clashes with the insurgents.
“Resistance fighters have succeeded in controlling all of the Al-Tawahi district and its vital facilities,” Ali Al-Ahmadi, spokesman for the government loyalists, told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday.
The loyalists, known as the Popular Resistance, also wrested control of the presidential palace, the state radio and television building, the headquarters of the regional military command, and a navy base, Ahmadi added.
The loyalists have now begun combing the surrounding areas in an effort to eliminate the last remaining rebel pockets, according to the spokesman.
Forces loyal to President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, backed by Saudi-led airstrikes, captured Aden last week and members of the country’s exiled cabinet have since started returning to the city from their temporary base in Riyadh.
The capture of Aden represents the biggest setback for the Houthi rebels, who have been the target of the Saudi-led aerial campaign aiming to restore Hadi to power, since late March.
Houthi fighters still control another presidential palace in Aden, located in the strategic Crater district. Ahmadi said Houthi fighters were “still positioned on the roofs of buildings” in Crater, “but in small numbers.”
Fighting in the last 24 hours between the Popular Resistance and Houthi rebels in Crater has killed 28, including 17 Houthis, and injured dozens, a pro-Hadi source said.
The Saudi-backed forces also captured around 40 insurgents in the city on Monday. Many of them surrendered after pro-Hadi armored vehicles advanced on the Al-Tawahi district.
The loyalists discovered a secret base in Al-Tawahi which the Houthis have been using for intelligence purposes, the source said. They also raided a home that was used to broadcast the Houthi-run Al-Massira TV channel.
Meanwhile, President Hadi on Monday issued two decrees appointing a new governor and a deputy governor for Aden as part of his government’s efforts to run the affairs of the newly captured city.
Meanwhile, Yemen’s Human Rights Minister Ezz Al-Din Al-Asbahi called on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit Aden to closely follow the human rights situation in the governorate.
“The [Yemeni] government will work to fully arrange the visit and remove all obstacles in its way,” Asbahi told Asharq Al-Awsat via telephone.
Yemen has been in turmoil since September of 2014 when a coalition of Iran-backed Houthi rebels and followers of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh captured Sana’a and started gradually consolidating their control across Yemen, eventually launching a coup against Hadi and his government in February.
Nayef Al-Rasheed contributed additional reporting from Riyadh.