Houthis abduct coalition backers

Anti-Houthi fighters in action in Aden.

Anti-Houthi fighters in action in Aden.

Security officials and eyewitnesses say Yemen’s southern port city of Aden has been hit by dozens of Saudi-led coalition airstrikes.

The attacks on Saturday come as Shiite Houthi rebels mobilized hundreds of reinforcements in an effort to wrest control of the city from militias supporting President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

The officials say fierce street battles are ongoing in the strategic Aden neighborhoods of Khour Makser and Dar Saad as the Houthis try to gain a foothold in the districts. In Aden and in the adjacent Lahj province alone, 46 rebels died in ongoing clashes.

A medic said that eight pro-Hadi militiamen were killed and 32 were wounded. The military source and pro-Hadi militiamen told AFP that coalition warships were also taking part in the campaign to contain the Houthi menace.

Warplanes’ targets included the rebel-held presidential palace, military officials said. Airstrikes also hit the rebel-held Al-Anad air base in Lahj north of Aden.

Residents in Lahj said that the rebels have captured “dozens” of civilians they accused of aiding the coalition by giving them information on rebel targets.

Meanwhile, the UN has confirmed Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, a Mauritanian diplomat, as the new special UN envoy for Yemen.

He replaces Jamal Benomar, who resigned last week following sharp criticism of his performance.

A UN statement announcing that the nomination has now been confirmed said Ould Cheikh Ahmed “will work closely with the members of the United Nations Security Council, the Gulf Cooperation Council, governments in the region and other partners, as well as the United Nations country team for Yemen.”

Ould Cheikh Ahmed is taking over the Yemen peace process after serving for four months as the head of the UN Ebola mission in Ghana.

He brings hands-on experience in the country, having worked as the UN humanitarian coordinator in Yemen from 2012 to 2014.


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