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Saudi-led Coalition Lands Special Forces in Yemen

FILE - A Saudi tank being transported, in the city of Najran, Saudi Arabia, near the border with Yemen, April 23, 2015.

The Saudi-led coalition battling Shi'ite Houthi insurgents in Yemen landed several dozen special forces in Aden Sunday, its first ground deployment in the battle for control of the Arab world's poorest country.

The coalition denied that a major ground offensive is under way, but the special forces engaged in fighting the Houthis at Aden's international airport.

Witnesses said the coalition forces were wearing black military-style clothing and were armed with sophisticated weaponry. Helicopter gunships hovered above their landing area between Aden's al-Mansoura neighborhood and the airport.

Riyadh launched airstrikes against the Iran-backed Houthi insurgents March 26, after the rebels seized control of large parts of Yemen and pushed toward Aden, a key southern port where President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi had taken refuge before fleeing to Saudi Arabia. The Houthis have joined forces with troops loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.