Friday, July 17, 2015

Aden 'liberated' says Yemen's exiled vice president - See more at:

Aden 'liberated' says Yemen's exiled vice president

Khaled Bahah announces online that the second city has been secured by anti-Houthi local forces allied to the exiled government.
Yemen's exiled vice president Khaled Bahah announced online on Friday the "liberation" of second city Aden after four months of devastating fighting between Houthi rebels and allied army units on one side, and local anti-Houthi forces allied to the exiled government.

"The government announces the liberation of the province of Aden on the first day of Eid al-Fitr which falls on July 17," Bahah said on his Facebook page, referring to the Muslim holiday marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

"We will work to restore life in Aden and all the liberated cities, to restore water and electricity," he said.

On Tuesday, anti-Houthi forces launched Operation Golden Arrow against the Houthis who, along with Yemeni army units loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, seized control of much of Aden in March, forcing the government into exile in neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

The counteroffensive was carried out by southern militiamen of the Popular Resistance, who largely support the secession of southern Yemen, backed by reinforcements freshly trained and equipped in Saudi Arabia.

The oil-rich kingdom leads a coalition of Arab countries which has been waging an air campaign against the Houthi-Saleh rebel forces.

Aden was President Abd-Rabbo Mansour Hadi's last refuge after he fled the capital Sanaa earlier this year as the rebels took over the government and launched an offensive in which they seized much of the rest of the country.

Swathes of the city have been reduced to rubble by the four months of ferocious fighting.

The exiled government's official news agency said anti-Houthi forces had mopped up the last pockets of rebel resistance in the city's Mualla district on Thursday.

They already secured the airport and the surrounding Khormaksar diplomatic district earlier this week.

In a televised speech to mark the Eid al-Fitr holiday, the exiled president paid tribute to the fighters in Aden and vowed that the southern port city would be the stepping stone to victory nationwide.

"Aden will be the key to Yemen's salvation," Hadi said in the speech broadcast late on Thursday. "From Aden we will regain all of Yemen."

The counteroffensive came after the failure of a UN-declared truce that was supposed to have taken effect last weekend to allow the delivery of desperately needed relief supplies.

The United Nations has declared Yemen a level-3 humanitarian emergency, the highest on its scale.

More than 21.1 million people -- over 80 percent of Yemen's population -- need aid, with 13 million facing food shortages, while access to water has become difficult for 9.4 million people.

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