ADEN • The vice-president of Yemen's exiled government in Riyadh yesterday said the southern port city of Aden was now under the control of Saudi-backed fighters after days of battle with the country's dominant Houthi militia.
Residents and local fighters said they now control about 90 per cent of the city but low-level clashes were continuing in the Tawahi district in the west to sweep the Houthis out from one of their last redoubts.
"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," Mr Khaled Bahah said on his official Facebook page.
Aden has been the focus of fighting since the Houthis first laid siege to the city in March when it was home to the government that subsequently fled to Saudi Arabia.
Once one of the world's busiest ports, Aden sits near the Bab al-Mandab shipping lane, a major energy gateway for Europe, Asia and the United States.
The victory in Aden will be the key to saving our cause
EXILED PRESIDENT ABD-RABBU MANSOUR HADI
Exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi praised the fighters and the Arab alliance, and said the gains in Aden were the start of a drive to take back the country.
"We will soon achieve a glorious victory in Yemen, our beloved country, in its entirety... the victory in Aden will be the key to saving our cause," Mr Hadi said in a speech.
The civil war in Yemen has killed at least 3,500 people and left more than 20 million of its 25 million residents in need of humanitarian aid.
Mr Ali Al-Ahmedi, a spokesman for the local fighters in Aden, told Reuters that dozens of Houthi fighters had surrendered to the militiamen as they lost ground.
The advances began on Tuesday when local fighters seized the city's international airport, followed by the main sea port the next day, then one district after another.
Fighters and witnesses said the offensive was backed up by donations of heavy weapons by the alliance, including around 100 armoured vehicles by the United Arab Emirates.
Dozens have been killed on both sides in the clashes since the beginning of the week, medics said.
On Thursday, several ministers and top intelligence officials from the exiled government touched down in Aden for the first time since the start of the war, in a move officials said was aimed at making it a base to revive the shattered Yemeni state.