Pro-government Yemeni forces capture key city from Houthis

Southern coastal city of Zinjibar liberated by pro-government Yemeni forces from Houthi rebels

Saudi-backed Yemeni fighters took control of Zinjibar, the capital of the Abyan province, on Saturday as Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi rebels retreated from the key city.

Tanks and other military equipment provided by the Saudi-led coalition were used by the pro-government forces as they advanced on the city from the north and the south, AFP reported.

A coalition of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia have been supporting pro-government forces in Yemen since the Houthi rebels forced the country's government to flee in March.

The Yemeni government, including President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, had been based in Aden since fleeing the capital Sanaa in September, after it was taken over by the Houthis, who are believed to be backed by loyalists of former deposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who resigned in 2012 in the context of the Arab Spring uprising.

The regaining of the city from the rebels comes as pro-government forces continue to take back the parts of the country previously overrun by the Houthis, building upon their victory in the coast city of Aden last month.

Pro-government forces also reportedly made significant gains in the southern Dalea province on Saturday.

Houthi rebels last week also lost control of the al Anad air base, north of Aden, while fighting still continues for the control of Taiz.

Earlier this week, approximately 2,800 Yemeni troops backed by Saudi-led coalition forces arrived in Yemen, according to reports.

The deployment was composed of Saudi special-operation forces, intelligence, logistics personnel including units from the United Arab Emirates, as the fight to reclaim the entire country from Houthis wages on.

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 of aid, 13 million are facing food shortages and 9.4 million are having difficulties accessing drinking water.

TRTWorld and agencies