Yemen rebels take central Aden district in blow to Saudi campaign

Yemen’s Houthi fighters and their allies seized a central Aden district on Thursday, residents said, striking a heavy blow to the Saudi-led coalition which has waged a week of air strikes to try to stem advances by the Iran-allied Shiite group. The southern port city has been the last major holdout of fighters loyal to the Saudi-backed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who fled Aden a week ago and has watched from Riyadh as the vestiges of his authority have crumbled. Residents of Aden’s central Crater district said Houthi fighters and their allies were in control of the neighborhood by midday on Thursday, deploying tanks and foot patrols through its otherwise empty streets after heavy fighting in the morning.

People are afraid and terrified by the bombardment. No one is on the streets - it’s like a curfew.

Farouq Abdu, Aden resident

It was the first time fighting on the ground had reached so deeply into central Aden. The war on the Houthis is just one of multiple conflicts being fought out in Yemen, the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest country, which has grappled with a southern secessionist movement, tribal unrest and a powerful regional wing of al-Qaida in the east and center of the country. The Houthis are drawn from a Zaidi Shi’ite minority that ruled a thousand-year kingdom in northern Yemen until 1962.