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Red Cross pushes for immediate ceasefire in Yemen

International Red Cross officials have called for a 24-hour truce to deliver urgent medical aid to Yemen. Casualties continue to mount as pro-government troops battle rebels in port city of Aden.

The aid agency requested Saturday for all air, land and sea routes to be "opened without delay." The Red Cross is negotiating with all parties, spokeswoman Sitara Jabeen said.

"Because there have been positive developments in our discussions, we are hopeful of getting all clearances needed by Sunday," she told Reuters.

Jabeen was speaking ahead of a

United Nations Security Council meeting set for Saturday

, where the members were to discuss a Russian proposal for humanitarian pauses in the Saudi-led air campaign.

Previously, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) accused the coalition forces, which have been conducting airstrikes in Yemen for the last 10 days, of preventing aid deliveries. Doctors without Borders have also complained that Yemeni restrictions prevent the organization from sending in medical teams and material.

'Fighting as heroes'

On Saturday, coalition forces continued to hit Houthi rebels in Aden, one of the last strongholds of troops loyal to internationally-recognized President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. At least 13 rebel fighters were killed, according to a military source.

Warplanes also dropped weapons and ammunition to pro-Hadi troops for a second night in a row.

With support from the Saudi-led coalition, the loyalist forces have managed to push Houthi fighters out certain districts in downtown Aden, including the area around Hadi's palace. The president himself was forced to leave the country for Saudi Arabia last week.

The object of the air campaign, according to Saudi officials, is to return Hadi to power. Riyadh accuses Iran of supporting and arming Houthi rebels, which Iran denies.

Call for help

At least 185 dead and 1,282 wounded have been counted in Aden hospitals since March 26, according to the director of the city's health department, Al-Kheder Lassouar. Three-quarters were civilians, he added, calling on international organizations and Arab-coalition countries for help.

"Medicine stocks are exhausted and hospitals can no longer cope with the increasing number of victims," he said.

The death toll does not include rebel victims nor lives lost in Saudi-led airstrikes.

In addition to the fighting between rebels and loyalists, the country is being shaken by attacks carried out by al Qaeda militants, who

seized control of Yemen's third-largest city, Mukalla

, on Friday.

Army sources said on Saturday that a tribal alliance plans to retake the city. Witnesses and tribal sources said armed men were gathering outside Mukalla. They were waiting for reinforcements before advancing on the town itself.

dj/rc (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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