ADEN, Yemen, (Xinhua) — Fierce battles continued between the Shiite Houthi group and tribal militia loyal to Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi on Sunday, showing little sign of an imminent breakthrough in holding reconciliation talks after the fighting and airstrikes have left thousands of people dead and wounded.
A security source based in Aden said anonymously that battles between Houthi gunmen and pro-Hadi militia in the port city left at least 23 people dead and several others wounded on Sunday.
At least 13 Houthi gunmen and 10 tribal fighters were killed in fighting around the Aden international airport that is under control of the Houthis and in the Mu’alla neighborhood where locates the country’s main port.
Sources of the pro-Hadi militia told Xinhua that “warplanes of the Saudi-led coalition forces launched more than 22 rounds of airstrikes against Houthi-controlled sites and military positions in Aden on Sunday.”
Sudnay’s airstrikes were among the fiercest and strongest since the beginning of fighting about a month ago, which caused explosions rocked Aden’s airport, the sources said.
The is no immediate report of casualties in the air raids.
After a month of fighting, the combat zone slowly reached to most of the districts in Aden city, which is Hadi’s last refuge before he fled to Saudi Arabia on March 26. Streets were almost empty and shops were closed, as tens of thousands of people fled to other provinces amid severe shortages of basic needs such as food, water, medicine and fuel.
On the same day, fresh clashes between tribal fighters and the Houthi group left 12 Houthis dead in al-Zahir district of al-Bayda province.
Meanwhile, overnight Saudi-led airstrikes pounded Houthi gatherings in the central province of Marib, killing dozens, according to provincial security officials.
They said the Houthi group keep sending reinforcements to Marib and the southern province of Taiz, as well as Aden city.
In the capital of Sanaa, overnight Saudi-led airstrikes hit al-Dailamy military air force base and former republican guards base, as well as Attan missile base.
The airstrikes destroyed the runway of Sanaa international airport last week, which halted the shipment of foreign aids to Yemen that has seen severe shortage of basic needs for about a month.
Sanaa resident Abdul Elah Attif said the situation has worsened beyond expectations. “There are no fuels and no power. Sometimes, power comes for only an hour a day, and sometimes there is no power for several days,” he said.
The battles and airstrikes have left more than 1,000 people killed and 3,000 wounded in the past month. The United Nations Children’s Fund said at least 115 children have been killed and 172 maimed as result of the war.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said after a month of airstrikes and fighting, Yemen’s health system is struggling to cope and there are severe shortages of essential items especially food and fuel, and import restrictions have made the situation worse.
ROLE OF REGIONAL POWER
Saudi Arabia, and eight other Arab states, have launched air strikes against the Shiite Houthi group and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullash Saleh since March 26, aiming to restore the exiled Hadi government.
The coalition forces announced halt of the air raids on April 21, saying they have “eliminated threats of the Shiite group rebels to the regional countries” through the Operation Decisive Storm operation and the launch of the second phrase of operation Renewal of Hope. However, the Saudi-led forces have continued air strikes.
On Sunday, sources said the Saudi-led coalition forces dispatched its first special unit of ground troops to Yemen’s southern port city of Aden.
“The first Saudi-led coalition troops arrived in Aden and have engaged in the fighting alongside with tribal militia allied with Yemen’s President Abdu-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in Aden’s neighborhood of KhorMaksar,” a senior government official based in Aden said on condition of anonymity.
“They are fighting with pro-Hadi militia against the Shiite Houthi gunmen near Aden’s international airport at the moment,” the government source said.
The number of the Saudi-led ground forces are about 40 to 50, a spokesman for the tribal militia told Xinhua. The soldiers were wearing Yemeni clothes, not army uniforms, witnesses said.
However, Saudi Arabia later denied such reports. Spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition Ahmed al-Asiri said “there are no foreign forces in Aden, but the coalition continues to help fight against the Houthi militia,” in a statement.
On Sunday evening, pro-Hadi militia carried out more organized attacks against Houthi-controlled sites in Aden, while some military officials suggested that foreign troops were involved in the battles, or may provide training to the tribal fighters.
Meanwhile, another regional power Iran who was accused of funding the Houthi group called for a diplomatic solution to Yemen’s crisis.
Tehran will not allow foreign intervention in Yemen to jeopardize their common security interests, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Saturday.
The Saudi-led coalition focuses on military attacks against Yemen, and this has “emboldened the Zionist regime (of Israel) and the terrorist groups,” he said, adding that Tehran supports dialogues among the conflicting sides in Yemen.
Foreign intervention in Yemen is condemned and “we will not allow anybody put in danger our intertwined security (with Yemen) through adventurous measures,” he stressed.