Yemen crisis: President Hadi returns to Aden from exile

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image copyrightAFP
image captionPresident Hadi was forced to flee to Saudi Arabia after Houthi rebels attacked Aden in March

Yemen's president has returned to the southern city of Aden after six months in exile, his office says.

Officials at the city's airport confirmed a plane carrying Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi had landed on Tuesday.

A government source told the Reuters news agency Mr Hadi would spend the festival of Eid al-Adha in Aden before flying to New York to address the UN.

He fled Aden in late March as Houthi rebels advanced on the city, triggering air strikes by a Saudi-led coalition.

In July, pro-government militiamen and soldiers drove the Houthis and allied army units loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh out of Aden with the help of coalition ground forces.

However, residents have complained that Aden has descended into chaos and lawlessness, with jihadist militants affiliated to al-Qaeda and Islamic State seen on the city's streets, and that the local authorities have been slow to restore services.

image copyrightAFP
image captionA ground offensive by forces loyal to President Hadi appears to have stalled in Marib province

Security around Aden's airport was increased ahead of the president's return, with armoured vehicles reportedly surrounding the facility and checkpoints put in place.

"The return of his excellency the president to Aden comes after an absence that has lasted for six months amid the brutal aggression which has been carried out by the militias loyal to the Houthis and Saleh on the city of Aden," the Associated Press quoted a statement by Mr Hadi's office as saying.

The president was expected to meet members of the cabinet, local officials and military and security leaders in the coming days.

Why is there fighting in Yemen?

  • Northern Shia Muslim rebels known as Houthis, backed by forces loyal to Yemen's ex-president, took over parts of Yemen, including the capital, Sanaa, and forced the government into exile in March
  • The rebels accused the government of corruption and of planning to marginalise their heartland within a proposed federal system
  • Forces loyal to the government and Southern militias regained control of Aden in July, aided by Saudi-led coalition air strikes and troops

Last week, Prime Minister Khaled Bahah returned to Aden with seven ministers to take up residence, and acknowledged the government faced major challenges.

The UN says almost 4,900 people, including more than 2,200 civilians, have been killed in fighting on the ground and air strikes since 26 March.

Earlier, medics said at least 20 people were killed when coalition warplanes bombed two buildings in the capital Sanaa, which the rebels overran a year ago.

image copyrightEPA
image captionThere were conflicting reports about who was killed in Tuesday's air strikes in Sanaa

The identity of the casualties was not clear. One security source saying they were mostly Houthis, but the rebel-controlled Saba news agency said they were civilians.

The Saudi defence ministry meanwhile said two soldiers had been reported missing after getting lost inside Yemeni territory. Evidence suggested they were being detained by rebel forces, it added.

The acknowledgement comes days after a man who identified himself as a captured Saudi soldier appeared on a pro-Houthi television channel and said he was being held with several comrades.

Since regaining control of Aden, forces loyal to President Hadi and coalition troops have advanced northwards towards Sanaa. However, their offensive is reported to have stalled in Marib province, east of the capital, in recent days.

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