Exiled Yemen prime minister visits war-torn city of Aden
SANAA, Yemen (AP) -- Yemen's exiled prime minister has visited the country's war-torn city of Aden, months after a Saudi-led airstrike campaign began against Shiite Houthi rebels there, authorities said.
Yemeni Prime Minister Khaled Bahah landed in Aden with six government ministers on Saturday and departed the same day, according to Aden's airport chief, Tarek Abdu Ali.
The spokesman of the Yemeni government in exile, Rageh Badie, said Bahah's visit aimed at normalizing life in Aden. He said Bahah was briefed about the situation and the functioning of local government agencies, and added that the government is working to restore services.
Badie said Bahah, who is also Yemen's vice president, toured the city and reviewed the destruction caused by months of fighting,
Meanwhile, military and government-aligned militias have gained control of the strategic southern city of Zanjibar, security officials and eyewitnesses said.
Ali Hawash, a pro-government field commander speaking by phone from Zanjibar, said his fighters have entered the city and are searching for Houthi fighters. He added that pro-government fighters are advancing with air cover from coalition planes amid fierce clashes with opposing fighters.
The pro-government fighters aim to take control of Zanjibar in order to secure Aden from the west and cut off a key supply line for the Houthis.
Houthi officials said their fighters remain in control of the south and west of the city.
Fighting also raged on in Yemen's third largest city of Taiz, killing at least 65 from both sides over the last two days, security and medical officials said. Nine civilians were also killed in Taiz as a result of the fighting, the officials said.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief journalists.
The fighting in Yemen pits the Houthis and troops loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh against southern separatists, local and tribal militias, Sunni Islamic militants and loyalists of exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who is now in Saudi Arabia.
A Saudi-led coalition has been waging an air campaign since March against the Houthis, who control the capital, Sanaa, parts of northern Yemen and who are pushing to expand their power grab to the south of this impoverished Arabian Peninsula country.
Egypt, which is part of the Saudi-led coalition, extended the participation of the Egyptian armed forces for another six months or until the end of the combat mission, whichever comes first. The decision came during a Saturday meeting of the National Defense Council, according to a statement from the Egyptian presidency.