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Saudi-led airstrikes continue to pound Aden as fighting rages on

A coalition led by Saudi Arabia pressed on with airstrikes against Shiite Houthi rebels in southern Yemen. Fighting centers around Yemen's second city of Aden and its airport.

Warplanes by the predominantly Sunni coalition led by Saudi Arabia hit Houthi rebel positions in the southern Yemeni city of Aden, helping pro-government forces retake positions.

The Shiite Houthi rebels and local militiamen loyal to exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi also traded tank and mortar salvos in the Khor Maksar district around the airport perimeter throughout the night. At least eight people were killed overnight.

Residents said dozens of families fled, braving Houthi sniper fire and checkpoints as homes were shelled and burned.

"The scene is disastrous, not just in the streets where fighting is going on but inside houses where families are often trapped and terrified," local activist Ahmed al-Awgari told the Reuters news agency.

Although the Saudi-led coalition said it had

halted its air campaign

on April 21, strikes have continued to hit targets across Yemen.

Riyadh has claimed that Shiite Iran provides the rebels with arms and fighters, which Tehran has denied. Sunni Saudi Arabia, backed by the US and several Sunni Arab states, launched the air campaign in late March, as it fears instability in the region as well as what is regards as the growing influence of Iran on the region.

The Houthis, who are loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, hail from Yemen's far north and belong to the Zaydi sect of Shiite Islam. They took the capital, Sanaa, in September, saying they were winning a revolution against Sunni militants and corrupt officials and calling for a more inclusive government.

Their push into Aden's outskirts on March 25 triggered the Saudi-led air campaign, aimed at driving them back and aid local gunmen. Hadi fled to Riyadh after talks between the Yemeni government and the rebels broke down.

The United Nations says the fighting in Yemen has claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people since late March.

ng/sms (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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