Yemeni fighters, who support the country’s exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, drove Houthi rebels back from central Aden on Friday after Saudi-led warplanes dropped weapons into their troubled section of the southern port city.
The Iran-allied Shiite Houthis suffered the major military setback after making days of advances in Aden. The city has been the last major foothold of fighters loyal to Hadi, despite heavy airstrikes conducted by Saudi Arabia-led coalition to halt the rebels and bring Hadi back to power.
On Friday, the Houthi fighters and their allies pulled out from the central Crater district and from one of Hadi’s presidential residences, which they had seized on Thursday. According to a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, the Yemeni fighters were reinforced with arms parachuted at dawn on Friday by Saudi-led warplanes, Reuters reported.
“They received the support and they were able to change the situation on the ground, driving the Houthi militias out of the palace and the areas that they had briefly taken control of,” Reuters quoted the spokesman as saying to a news briefing in Riyadh.
Weapons and other logistical support, including light weapons, telecommunications equipment and rocket-propelled grenades, were airdropped into Aden’s Tawahi district, which is located on the far end of the Aden peninsula, Reuters reported, citing Yemeni fighters.
Aden's Crater neighborhood reportedly came under full control of the Houthis by midday on Thursday, after they deployed tanks and foot patrols through the streets that were emptied after heavy fighting earlier in the day.
The Houthi rebels’ recent gains in Aden suggests that the airstrikes have had little impact on the rebels' advances. Although Yemen’s Foreign Minister Riad Yassin recently called for Saudi Arabia to escalate the war against the Houthis into a ground intervention, Riyadh has not yet confirmed its decision to send ground troops to Yemen.