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Exiled Yemeni officials arrive in “liberated” Aden - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Yemeni fighters loyal to exiled President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi evacuate an injured comrade during clashes with Shi'ite Houthi rebels on July 16, 2015 in the center of the southern Yemeni city of Aden. (AFP PHOTO / SALEH AL-OBEIDI)

Yemeni fighters loyal to exiled President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi evacuate an injured comrade during clashes with Shi’ite Houthi rebels on July 16, 2015 in the center of the southern Yemeni city of Aden. (AFP PHOTO / SALEH AL-OBEIDI)

Riyadh and Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Senior members of Yemen’s government-in-exile arrived in Aden from Riyadh in the early hours of Friday following the liberation of the southern city from Houthi rebels, a Saudi security source told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The delegation which consisted of Yemeni ministers and top security and military officials flew from Jeddah to the port of Assab in Eriteria at 9.00 pm local time on Thursday. A Saudi aircraft carried the delegation which was escorted by members of Saudi security, the source said.

The delegation included top security and military officials, including Ali Al-Ahmadi, the head of Yemen’s National Security Agency and Major General Abdullah Al-Nakh’i, the Navy Commander.

This comes after forces loyal to President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi captured most of the city of Aden from Houthi rebels, in a closely coordinated operation with the Saudi-led coalition forces.

The offensive, dubbed “Operation Golden Arrow,” represents the biggest setback for the Houthis and forces loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh since the conflict began in September.

According to the source the officials will “celebrate the victory that led to the liberation of the city of Aden and the nearby villages from the Houthi militias.”

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat Yemen’s Human Rights Minister Ezz Al-Din Asbahi said Yemen’s exiled ministers will start relocating to Aden to prepare for the return of the government of President Hadi.

The government’s priority will be to secure Aden’s international airport to enable it to allow humanitarian aid into Yemen, Asbahi said.

The officials said “several important ministers had been already operating in Aden” before it was liberated.

President Hadi, along with several members of his government, fled Aden to Saudi Arabia in late March after the Houthis closed in on the strategic city. In response to Hadi’s call for intervention, Riyadh has launched an aerial campaign against the Houthis in Yemen in a bid to restore the beleaguered president to power.

In a speech he delivered from Riyadh on Thursday, Hadi directed the returning ministers to address the immediate needs of the Yemeni people, adding that “Aden will be the key to salvation for our people and our case.”

“From Aden, we will regain Yemen,” he said.

Meanwhile, three anti-rebel fighters were killed on Thursday after Houthis fired Katyusha rockets at Aden’s international airport, a government official said.

Fighting intensified in Aden on Tuesday as Saudi-backed fighters took control of most of city’s strategic districts.

Arafat Madabish contributed additional reporting from Sana’a.