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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Saudi-led coalition continues battle against Houthi rebels

It came as security forces in Aden tightened their grip on government offices, the city's police spokesman told The National

A Houthi arms depot explodes after it was hit by air strikes in Sanaa, Yemen January 31, 2018. Khaled Abdullah / REUTERS
A Houthi arms depot explodes after it was hit by air strikes in Sanaa, Yemen January 31, 2018. Khaled Abdullah / REUTERS

The Saudi-led coalition destroyed a number of Houthi ammunition stores outside the Yemeni capital on Wednesday as violence abated in the southern city of Aden after days of clashes between local security forces and government troops.

Five coalition air strikes targeted rebel stores in the Houthi stronghold of Al Geraf, to the north of Sanaa. The stores supply rebel fighters in Al Geraf, as well as the areas of Shaoub and Bani Hosheish, located north-east and east of the capital respectively.

"Ammunition stores, which were hidden among civilian buildings, caught on fire and stayed lit throughout the day," a resident told The National.

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The strikes came as local security forces in Aden — Yemen's interim capital — tightened their grip on government offices, the spokesman of the city's police, Lieutenant Abdulrahman Al Nakeeb, told The National.

It follows days of clashes between Aden's security forces and troops loyal to president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi. Mr Hadi's government was forced to relocate to the southern port after the Houthis captured Sanaa in 2014.

“The security forces of Aden are committed to securing everywhere in the interim capital as they hold the responsibility to protect the government as well as the private sectors all over the city," said Lt Al Nakeeb.

Aden's security forces support the Southern Transitional Council (STC), a semi-autonomous body calling for southern Yemen to secede from the north, but have stressed they will continue to support the battle against the Houthis.

"We are a part of the Arab coalition and we will work hard to achieve its goals in the north as we did in the south," former Aden governor and Southern Transitional Council president Major General Aidarous Al Zubaidi said in an interview with France 24 on Tuesday.

Maj Gen Al Zubaidi said forces loyal to the Southern Transitional Council were ready to go further with the coalition to liberate Sanaa of the Houthi presence and restore the internationally recognised government.

But he urged the Saudi-led alliance to “change the current government, which wreaked havoc in the liberated provinces and drove the people to the brink of famine”.

The Southern Transitional Council was formed by the secessionist Southern Movement last year and consists of a president and 25 members from all eight southern provinces, including three women. It aims to be the representative of southern Yemen and to rule the south if the government fails to do so.

Clashes broke out on Sunday when supporters of the council tried to hold protests in Aden calling for government ministers to step down, accusing them of corruption. A day before the government had banned all protests and gatherings in the city.

"People went to raise their voice peacefully but the government of corruption fired at them," Maj Gen Al Zubaidi said. "Such behaviour forced the resistance to protect the protesters and dismiss the government because the president didn't respond to the voice of the people."