Aden: Yemeni police clashed with Al-Qaeda fighters on today in second city Aden as pro-government forces pressed their offensive to break a rebel siege on third city Taez, security sources said.
In the internationally recognised government’s temporary capital of Aden, fighting broke out in the Mansura residential district after security forces set up new checkpoints, they said.
Dozens of gunmen in balaclavas carrying the Al-Qaeda flag deployed to push back police trying to enter the neighbourhood, witnesses said.
Late today, jihadists shot at an Apache helicopter from the Saudi-led military coalition backing the police, they said, before a fighter jet intervened to strike jihadist positions.
Jihadists from Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group have taken advantage of the conflict between the Huthi insurgents and pro-government forces to reinforce their presence in the south, including the port city of Aden.
Meanwhile, pro-government forces on today pressed their offensive aimed at breaking the rebels’ months-long siege of the southwestern city of Taez, military sources said.
Fighting raged north and east of the city, they said, a day after loyalists pushed the Iran-backed Huthis out of its western and southern suburbs.
Forces loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi managed to “retake important positions” in a northern suburb where heavy clashes continued, one source said.
But retaking the eastern part will be more difficult, the source said, as this is held by the Republican Guard, an elite army unit loyal to former president and Huthi ally Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The rebels and their allies have been attacking residential neighbourhoods of Taez from this area, which includes an airport, an industrial zone and the headquarters of the special forces, the source added, without giving a death toll for the fighting.
Loyalists today morning pushed back rebels trying to retake the headquarters of the army’s 35th brigade in the western suburbs, sources said.
Loyalists last summer retook five southern provinces including Aden and have for months been fighting to win back Taez.
Breaking the siege should allow for humanitarian and medical aid to reach about 200,000 besieged residents, Taez governor Ali al-Maamari said yesterday from exile in Saudi Arabia.
The capital Sanaa further north has been under rebel control since September 2014.