Aden, Asharq Al-Awsat—Yemen’s government-in-exile on Wednesday called on Arab and international allies to intervene immediately in the war-torn state after the Houthi movement captured one of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi’s last strongholds, killing and injuring hundreds of civilians.
Over 80 civilians were killed in Aden on Wednesday as the Iran-backed group entered Al-Tawahi district, where Hadi had taken residence before fleeing to Saudi Arabia earlier this year.
At least 40 Yemenis were killed after Houthi rebel fighters targeted a boat carrying mostly civilians trying to flee the clashes that erupted in Aden between the Houthi attackers and the pro-Hadi volunteers.
Yemen’s Foreign Minister Riyadh Yassin urged regional countries and the international community to prevent Aden falling into the hands of “the killers of men and children,” in reference to the Shi’ite group.
Shi’ite Houthi militiamen, allied with military forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, managed to take control of large swathes of Yemeni territory earlier this year after launching a coup against legitimate President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
Although a Saudi-led aerial campaign against the alliance had initially driven the Houthi-Saleh forces back, rebel fighters have in recent weeks advanced on the strategic southern port city of Aden.
In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, deputy governor of Aden Nayef Al-Bakri said: “Houthi fighters and Saleh loyalists have entered Al-Tawahi and are now in control of the city’s entrance where Aden’s state TV and radio is located.”
Brig. Gen. Ali Nasser Hadi, a senior pro-Hadi military commander, was reportedly killed during clashes with Houthi rebels and Saleh loyalists in Aden on Wednesday, local sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Yemen’s foreign minister, however, denied that Aden had completely fallen to the Houthis, adding that local militias are continuing to fight the rebel group.
In eastern Aden, the anti-Houthi Popular Resistance Force, a group of mainly civilian volunteers, launched a surprise attack on Houthi forces in the Agid area in the early hours of Wednesday, killing 8 and injuring dozens, a pro-Hadi source told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Yassin framed the Houthis latest push on Aden as an attempt to undermine the Riyadh conference set to launch in mid-May.
“What happened in Al-Tawahi is one of the methods through which [Houthi rebels and Saleh loyalists] are trying to undermine the Riyadh conference which they want to relocate to another country in order to further delay it,” he said.
Saudi Arabia concluded a month-long aerial campaign that targeted Houthi positions in late April and announce the launch of new diplomatic efforts to reach a political solution to the crisis. Riyadh has invited all of Yemen’s political factions to attend reconciliation talks under the auspices of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Riyadh.
Nasser Al-Haqbani contributed reporting from Riyadh.