Yemen pro-government forces retake Aden airport | News | DW | 26.03.2015
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Yemen pro-government forces retake Aden airport

Forces loyal to Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi have regained control of Aden airport. After heavy fighting, the airport was retaken from fighters allied to the Houthis, who oppose Hadi.

On Thursday, armed forces supporting Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi were able to regain control of the international airport in Aden, a southern city seen as a Hadi stronghold.

A day before, Shiite Houthi rebels loyal to the country's former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, had gained control of the airport.

Saudis enter the fold

Earlier on Thursday, forces from the Saudi Arabian military launched attacks on key Houthi military positions, after regional powers announced a coalition against the Shiite rebels in Yemen.

"We will do whatever it takes in order to protect the legitimate government of Yemen from falling and from facing any dangers from outside militia," Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir, said in Washington as the attacks began. "We have a situation where you have a militia group that is now in control or can be in control of ballistic missiles, of heavy weapons, and of an air force."

At the same time as the Saudi announcement came a joint statement to the same end from five countries - Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The statement said the countries had "decided to answer the call of President Hadi to protect Yemen and his people from the aggression of the Shiite militia."

Saudi-owned broadcaster al Arabiya TV said 100 warplanes and 150,000 troops would be contributed to the operation by Riyadh.

The Saudi-led coalition was said to have warned foreign ships from attempting to dock at Yemeni ports and declared the country's airspace a "restricted zone."

Washington approves of Saudi intervention

The White House said late on Wednesday (local time) that it was coordinating closely with Saudi Arabia and other regional allies about the action against the Houthi. The help provided, sanctioned by President Barack Obama, was said to include intelligence and logistical support.

Egypt has said it is providing "military and political support" for the mission. Meanwhile, the al-Arabiya television network said planes from Morocco, Jordan, Sudan - as well as Gulf states - would be sent to Saudi Arabia to support operations.

Jemen has become increasingly divided between a north dominated by Houthis and a south largely controlled by Hadi supporters.

Former President Saleh, who resigned in 2012 after protests, has been accused of backing the Houthi rebels in an effort to regain influence.

mz,rc/msh (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)

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