CAIRO - Backed by the Saudi-led coalition, pro-government militiamen in southern Yemen have made major gains in the strategic port city of Aden in the past 24 hours. The Saudi-led coalition is calling the battle to retake Aden “Operation Golden Arrow.”
Armed with heavy weapons and armed vehicles, southern militiamen traded fire with Houthi rebel fighters in several districts of the strategic port city of Aden.
Witnesses said Houthi fighters have been driven out of key parts of the city, including the port, international airport and a number of government buildings.
A southern commander told Arab media the Houthis were pushed back on two fronts in the north of Aden and to the east of the city. He indicated fighting was continuing in the southern-most Crater district.
Amateur video showed southern militiamen in control of Aden's international airport after they captured the facility Tuesday from the Houthis and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdallah Saleh.
Other video showed black smoke pouring from Aden's refinery after the Houthis allegedly fired on oil storage tanks, setting them ablaze.
Residents of several southern Yemeni cities shot fireworks into the air overnight to celebrate the retreat of Houthi militiamen. Amateur video also showed some rejoicing residents of Aden honking their car horns.
Elsewhere, the Houthi's al Masira TV claimed the Saudi-led coalition launched five airstrikes overnight on the international airport in the Yemeni capital Sanaa. Saudi-owned al Arabiya TV claimed the Houthis, who control Sanaa, have put their forces in the city on alert.
The Houthis were also reportedly pushed out of several districts in Yemen's third largest city of Taiz. Witnesses said Houthi forces shelled their opponents, while Saudi coalition planes struck Houthi targets from the air.
A Houthi supporter claimed a Saudi airstrike inside the city killed a number of people in a jeep. Pro-Houthi media showed video of dead bodies next to a vehicle that appeared to have been struck by a missile.
In the north of the country, Houthi forces claimed to have fired rockets over the border into Saudi territory, striking targets in the city of Jizan. The Houthi's al Masira TV claimed several targets, including a cement factory and a bridge, were hit.