July 30, 2015 / 1:45 PM / 2 years ago

Yemeni forces seize Houthi positions on Aden outskirts: local officials

SANAA/ADEN (Reuters) - Yemeni forces backed up by Saudi-led coalition air strikes have recaptured positions on the outskirts of Aden used by the Houthi group to fire rockets into the southern port city, local officials said on Thursday.

Pro-Houthi activists finish painting graffiti depicting Saudi-led air strikes on the wall of the Saudi embassy in Sanaa July 29, 2015. The writings read: "I am hungry." and "Yemen" REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Forces loyal to exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, which retook Aden from the Iran-allied Houthis on July 17, seized the town of Muthalath al-Ilm, at Aden’s eastern entrance.

The fighters, who call themselves the Southern Resistance forces, also recaptured neighborhoods to the north of Aden from the Houthis, including Ya‘wala, Al-Basateen and Qariat al-Falahi, the officials said.

They said the two sides were still fighting in al-Houta, the capital of the southern province of Lahj, 30 km (20 miles) from Aden, where clashes have persisted for several days.

Saudi air raids also targeted locations across the south, including Dhalea and Aland airbase, Houthi media Saba News reported quoting a security source at Yemen’s interior ministry.

An Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia has been carrying out air strikes in Yemen since March in an effort to drive back the Houthis, who are aligned with former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and fight alongside his forces.

The four-month-old war is rooted in political strains that escalated last year when the Houthis seized the capital, Sanaa, and pushed out Hadi, a U.S. ally. Nearly 4,000 people have been killed and more than 1.2 million displaced, the United Nations says.

A five-day truce put forward by the Saudi side to allow delivery of aid that began on Sunday ended almost immediately, with resistance fighters accusing the Houthis flouting the deal.

More than 6 million people in Yemen are on the verge of starvation, Oxfam said on Tuesday.

Also on Thursday, residents and local officials said four suspected members of the al Qaeda affiliated Ansar al-Sharia militant group were killed in an overnight air strike by an unmanned aircraft, or drone, in the southern province of Abyan.

Writing by Hadeel Al Sayegh; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Louise Ireland

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