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Yemen fighting spreads as US promises support to Saudis

The Saudi-led air campaign has hit the economy hard and led to unemployment [Anadolu/Getty]

Date of publication: 8 April, 2015

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Fighting continues in Yemen as Houthi rebels press into Aden, but two weeks of Saudi-led air raids have begun to allow isolated counter-attacks.

Fighting continued in Yemen on Wedneday between Houthi rebels and militias loyal to President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, with the Houthis advancing into the southern city of Aden. 

Dozens of fighters and their allies entered into the Crater area, near the city's port, according to reports.

Residents told the Reuters news agency that the rebels were backed by a tank and two armoured vehicles. They said that mosque loudspeakers called for "jihad", or holy war, against the attackers. Houses were hit by rockets as the rebels advanced.

Meanwhile, the Saudi jets bombed rebel positions in the north of Yemen.

The US announced it would increase its support for the coalition both militarily and through intelligence sharing.

"We have expedited weapons deliveries, we have increased our intelligence sharing, and we have established a joint co-ordination and planning cell in the Saudi operations centre," the US's deputy secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told reporters after talks with Hadi in Riyadh on Tuesday.

He said that Yemen's economy had been destroyed by the rebels and allied forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, and that the situation had led to instability that would be exploited by Islamist groups.

Iran dispatched a naval destroyer and another vessel to waters near Yemen on Wednesday, adding to the increasing involvement of regional and international powers in the conflict.

Iran's English-language state broadcaster Press TV quoted Habibollah Sayyari, an admiral, as saying the ships would be part of an anti-piracy campaign "safeguarding naval routes for vessels in the region".

Counter attack

Al-Araby's Faris al Jalal said that a thirteenth day of air raids had allowed forces loyal to Hadi to make gains against the rebels.

Sources in the Ibb and Taiz regions said Hadi loyalists there ambushed Houthis and their allies several times, destroying military equipment and a large number of armoured vehicles and tanks, and injuring many soldiers.

Humanitiarian crisis

The fresh fighting comes after warnings yesterday by the World Health Organisation of an unfolding humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

It said that at least 560 people, including dozens of children, have been killed, mostly in the air campaign and ground battles. The aid group said that more than 1,700 people had been wounded and another 100,000 had fled their homes as fighting intensified over the past three weeks.

The first boat carrying medical aid to Yemen since the coalition began bombing arrived in the southern port city of Aden on Wednesday, said humanitarian NGO, Doctors Without Borders.

Its head of mission in Yemen, Marie-Elisabeth Ingres, said the ship carried 2.5 tonness of supplies from Djibouti for its hospital in Aden.

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