Houthis Seize Aden District

Houthis Seize Aden District

Yemeni Houthi fighters and their allies seized a central Aden district on Thursday, striking a heavy blow against the Saudi-led coalition that has waged a week of air strikes to try to stem advances by the Shiite group.
Hours after the Houthis took over Aden's central Crater neighborhood, they marked another symbolic victory by fighting their way into a presidential residence overlooking the neighborhood, residents said, Reuters reported.
The southern city has been the last major holdout of fighters loyal to Saudi-backed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who fled Aden a week ago and has watched from Riyadh as the vestiges of his authority have crumbled.
By nightfall the Shiite fighters had reached the edge of Aden's port district of Mualla, they said.
The Houthis and their supporters swept into the heart of Aden despite an eight-day air campaign led by Riyadh trying to stem their advances and ultimately return Hadi to power.
Although the Saudi air strikes have had little apparent impact on halting the Houthi advance, a senior US military official in Washington played down the possibility that Saudi Arabia would send in ground forces.
“I don’t think they’re going to do that. I think they are arraying their forces along their border to prevent a Houthi incursion,” the official told a group of reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity. “They’re postured defensively.”
By midday on Thursday the Houthis were in control of Aden's Crater neighborhood, deploying tanks and foot patrols through its otherwise empty streets after heavy fighting in the morning.
It was the first time fighting on the ground had reached so deeply into central Aden. Crater is home to the local branch of Yemen's central bank and many commercial businesses.
"People are afraid and terrified by the bombardment," one resident, Farouq Abdu, told Reuters by telephone from Crater. "No one is on the streets - it's like a curfew".
The Houthis, who took over the capital Sanaa six months ago in alliance with supporters of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, turned on Aden last month.
A diplomat in Riyadh said the city had come to symbolize Hadi's fading authority, meaning that Saudi Arabia could not afford to allow it to fall completely under Houthi control. But he said Riyadh's air campaign was so far geared more toward a slow war of attrition than an effective defense. The war on the Houthis is now the biggest of multiple conflicts being fought out in the Arabian Peninsula's poorest state, also grappling with a southern secessionist movement, tribal unrest and a powerful regional wing of al Qaeda.


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