According to Yemeni residents and officials, fighters and army forces loyal to exiled President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi have captured two military bases from Iran-backed Houthi militants in a week of considerable gains against the group.
Pro-Hadi forces backed by Saudi-led air strikes took control of the Labuza army base in Lahj province after a week of planning. The fighters were well-armed and trained by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Yemeni officials said.
The offensive came after Yemen’s government, which had been in a state of self-exile in Saudi Arabia, declared the “liberation” of the key southern city of Aden.
It marks the first substantial reversal of a series of defeats by the Houthis since the Saudi-led campaign of air strikes in Yemen started four months ago, which have killed more than 3,500 people so far.
The Saudi-led coalition began an extensive air campaign targeting Houthi-held cities across Yemen on March 26 in order to allow President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and his government, who were in self-imposed exile in Riyadh, to return to Yemen’s capital Sanaa.
Houthi forces and their allies in Yemen's army attempted to regroup and take back northern fringes of Aden on Friday, firing on Khor Maksar district, but their offensive was repelled.
Anti-Houthi fighters are preparing for an offensive backed by Saudi-led coalition air strikes to take Anad air base, 60 kilometres north of Aden.
On Saturday, coalition aircraft bombed a convoy attempting to reinforce the Houthis east of Aden, killing 25 fighters, a military official said.
President Hadi announced on Saturday the naming of the most important street in Aden “Khadim al Haramain,” a reference to Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, in gratitude for Saudi support in fighting the Houthis.
The Houthis took control of the Yemeni capital of Sanaa last September, before expanding to take control over more territory in the country.
In the city of Aden alone, more than 858 Yemeni civilians were killed, including 259 children, and 6,879 others were wounded in the first 100 days of the conflict.