Yemen’s southern port city of Aden was declared as “liberated” on Friday, by the vice president of Yemen’s exiled government in Riyadh, Khaled Bahah. The government’s assertion of control over the city coincides with the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.
"We congratulate the people of Aden and the Republic of Yemen as a whole for what has been achieved in the last two days ... The government announces the liberation of Aden province," Bahah said on his official Facebook page.
A number of ministers and officials from the government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi arrived in Aden "to arrange the security situation and ensure stability before the resumption of the work of state institutions," Yemeni officials reported.
Hadi added, “from Aden we will regain Yemen, and this victory will be but a key to all the coming victories until Yemen is restored to its own people.”
Local forces loyal to President Hadi published pictures of themselves dispersed and in control of Aden’s Kreter district, saying that the pictures were taken after the Iranian-backed Houthis surrendered following several hours of ongoing clashes.
A spokesman for the pro-government fighters in Aden, Ali Ahmad, told Reuters that dozens of rebels turned themselves surrendered to the fighters after their defeat.
However, low-level clashes are still continuing in the Tawahi district in the west of Aden in fighting intended to push the Houthi militias out of their last stronghold in the city, residents and local fighters stated.
Aden has been a key city in the three-month battle between the Saudi-led coalition backing President Hadi and Houthi militants after Hadi’s government sought refuge in Saudi Arabia last September.
Rapid progress was seen when local fighters took control of the city’s international airport on Tuesday, followed by the city’s main seaport the next day.
Local pro-government fighters said they had been advancing towards Anad air base, 60 kilometres north of Aden, with the support of the Saudi-led coalition by air.
Capturing Aden marks a huge leap forward in the Yemeni government’s fight against the Houthis that could lead to Hadi’s exiled government being reinstated.