Aden: Fierce clashes raged today between rebels and loyalists in southern Yemen, leaving more than 140 dead in 24 hours, as the Red Cross faced delays to urgently needed aid deliveries. Relief workers have warned of a dire situation in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula state, where a Saudi-led coalition is waging war on Iran-backed Huthi Shiite rebels.
The bloodiest fighting occurred between rebels and loyalists of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi in the main southern city of Aden, officials said. More than a third of those slain in the past 24 hours -- 53 -- were killed as rebels tried to seize a port in the city, which sits on an extinct volcano jutting out into the sea.
Smoke and flames rise allegedly from Shiite Huthi rebels camps located on Faj Attan Hill (L) and Aser mountain (R) following an airstrike by the Saudi-led alliance on April 6, 2015 in the Yemeni capital Sanaa. Pic/ AFP
At least 19 Huthis and 15 pro-Hadi militiamen were killed overnight in the town of Daleh, north of Aden, officials said, and seven other people died in the southern province of Abyan. Pro-Hadi fighters have laid siege in Abyan to the base of a renegade army brigade loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is accused of backing the Huthis.
Ten rebels were killed in coalition air strikes that hit Al-Anad airbase near Abyan and a military camp in Lahj, while many more died in Shabwa province. Hadi, considered by the UN to be Yemen's legitimate leader, took refuge in Aden in February after the Huthis, who hail from the mountainous north, seized power in Sanaa.
Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia last month as rebels advanced on his southern stronghold, prompting the military campaign by the Saudi-led coalition, now in its 12th day. Yemen, strategically located near key shipping routes and bordering oil-rich Saudi Arabia, is sinking deeper into a multi-sided civil conflict.
The fighting has drawn in an array of armed groups including the Huthis, pro-Hadi militia, army units loyal to Saleh, southern separatists, Sunni tribes and al-Qaeda. The Red Cross has appealed for an immediate truce to facilitate aid deliveries and has called for all land, air and sea routes to be immediately opened to allow the delivery of 48 tonnes of medical supplies the organisation has ready to treat up to 3,000 wounded.
The situation is particularly dire in Aden, where some neighbourhoods have had no electricity or water in days. The Red Cross has been trying to fly emergency supplies into Sanaa but the plane is still stuck on the tarmac. "We have a cargo plane with medical supplies which is ready to go," said Sitara Jabeen, a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross. "We have the permission for this plane but we have logistical problems for the landing. There are less and less planes landing in Yemen. We are trying to solve the logistic problems," she told AFP.