Tue, Apr 07, 2015 - Page 6 News List

Yemen’s rebels advance in battleground of Aden

SITUATION ‘DIRE’:The Saudi-led coalition accused rebels of ‘terrorizing’ the civilian population as fighting delayed the delivery of humanitarian aid and killed four civilians

AFP, ADEN, Yemen

Civilians dig through the rubble of a building, reportedly targeted by Shiite Huthi rebels, on Sunday in Aden, Yemen.

Photo: AFP

Yemeni rebels made new gains in the battleground southern city Aden on Sunday as a Saudi-led coalition trying to halt their advance faced growing calls for a humanitarian pause in air strikes.

The Red Cross has appealed for an immediate truce to allow families to seek water, food and medical assistance, describing the situation as “dire.”

Russia presented a draft resolution to the UN Security Council on Saturday calling for a humanitarian pause in the Saudi-led air war against the Huthi Shiite rebels, now in its 11th day.

The coalition kept up its night-time raids against rebel positions and arms depots, particularly around the capital, Sana’a, and Saada, the northern stronghold of the Iran-backed rebels.

In Aden, the rebels advanced into the central port district of Mualla, capturing the provincial government headquarters, a local official said.

Mualla is defended by “popular committees” militiamen loyal to Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who has fled to neighboring Saudi Arabia.

The rebels bombarded residential areas, setting fire to several buildings and damaging others, witnesses said.

At least five civilians were killed and 14 wounded in the latest clashes, according to the city’s health department director al-Kheder Lassouar.

“There are children among the wounded,” he said.

Residents said dozens of families had fled their homes in Aden, the heart of which sits on an extinct volcano jutting out into the sea.

Coalition spokesman General Ahmed Assiri accused the rebels of “terrorizing” civilians.

Assiri also said that the Red Cross had been due to send a plane on Sunday to Sana’a carrying humanitarian aid, but had delayed the flight.

“Snipers, who took position on the roofs of provincial government buildings, targeted passers-by and members of the popular committees,” pro-Hadi fighter Khalid Bashaea said.

The rebels also fired mortar rounds at an Aden television station loyal to Hadi, forcing it off the air.

Hospitals are running short of medicines and the streets of Aden are strewn with bodies, the Red Cross said, calling for a 24-hour ceasefire.

“Our relief supplies and surgical personnel must be allowed to enter the country and safely reach the worst-affected places to provide help,” said Robert Mardin, head of Middle East operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross. “Otherwise, put starkly, many more people will die. For the wounded, their chances of survival depend on action within hours, not days.”

The Saudi-led military coalition, which comprises four other Gulf states, as well as Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan, said aid would be allowed into the country when conditions are right.

Violence has escalated sharply in the deeply tribal country on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula since the coalition launched Operation Decisive Storm against the rebels on March 26.

Hadi took refuge in Aden in February after the Huthis seized power in Sana’a, but left for Saudi Arabia last month as they advanced on the city.

The rebels seized his presidential palace in Aden on Thursday, but, aided by air strikes and arms drops, Hadi loyalists drove the rebels out of the hilltop complex the following day.

Pro-Hadi forces also said they retook the rebel-held southern town of Loder in Abyan Province on Sunday after fierce clashes reportedly killed 24 people, including 21 Shiite militiamen.

This story has been viewed 2755 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top