A day after the capture of the strategically valuable port in Yemen’s key city of Aden, fighters supporting exiled Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi were battling to take back the northern suburbs of Aden from Houthi rebels on Tuesday, residents said.
"We're in an operation to complete the extension of our control over the city of Aden and to confront the Houthi presence at its entrances," a leader in a local militia told Reuters by phone.
In Aden’s Dar Saad and al Alam areas, Iranian backed Houthi fighters and Saudi backed fighters clashed for hours, while Arab coalition warplanes bombed the Houthis from above.
A Houthi artillery barrage killed 43 people and wounded 173 on Sunday in Dar Saad, underscoring the fragility of the grip of the anti-Houthi forces over Aden.
Saudi-led air strikes in Yemen began in March, when exiled President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi called on Arab countries to help “save Yemen” after Houthi rebels overran the country’s capital Sanaa last September.
The UN has declared the situation in Yemen to be a level-three humanitarian emergency, the highest on its scale, after about 80 percent of the country’s population fell into dire need of humanitarian aid.
Twenty million people in the country are in need for aid, 13 million are facing food shortages, and 9.4 million are having difficulties accessing drinking water.
A ship carrying enough UN food aid to feed 180,000 people for a month docked at the Yemeni port of Aden on Tuesday, having previously being prevented from doing so for almost four weeks, World Food Programme spokesman Peter Smerdon said.
"It's the first WFP chartered ship to berth in the port since the conflict erupted in late March," Smerdon said. "We have additional ships chartered which are on standby heading towards Aden carrying more food and fuel."
Hadi's administration and the Arab military alliance are seeking to secure Aden to challenge Houthi control over Yemen’s other vital cities.