Yemen's internationally recognized but nationally disputed president shored up his make-shift seat of power in the port city of Aden on Sunday, as the country's defense minister fled the capital Sana'a to join him.
General Mahmoud al-Subaihi defected to Yemen's second city on Sunday, fleeing the Houthi-controlled capital where President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and his cabinet resigned under militia pressure in January.
Yemen's prime minister and other senior-level officials remain in Sana'a under Houthi house arrest; Hadi established himself in Aden last month after escaping, amid a struggle for control of the Gulf country since the politically ambitious rebel group entered the capital in September.
Arab Gulf countries and several Western nations, including the United States, have issued statements in support of Hadi, who has rescinded his resignation and reaffirmed himself as Yemen's legitimate leader.
The United Nations also recognizes him as president.
In a show of support, U.S. Ambassador Matthew Tueller visited Hadi in Aden last week, despite the closure of the U.S. embassy in Sana'a following the Houthi take-over.
Aden was the capital of the independent south Yemen before unification with the north in 1990.