Troops loyal to Yemen’s internationally recognised government have captured Aden’s airport from southern separatist forces, a government official has said.
Information Minister Moammar al-Eryani said in a Twitter post on Wednesday that national army forces had “taken control” of the airport.
Al-Eryani said in an earlier tweet that forces of the Saudi-backed government had also begun to secure several districts throughout the port city, which was seized along with other parts of Yemen’s south by the United Arab Emirates-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC) forces earlier this month.
National army forces enter Aden airport and take full control of the main gate of the airport amidst public celebration and joy
— معمر الإرياني (@ERYANIM) August 28, 2019
Residents told Reuters news agency that government forces attacked Aden’s eastern suburbs on Wednesday, and fought artillery duels with the separatists, who are demanding self-rule in the south.
The reported developments came after government troops also wrestled control of Zinjibar, the capital of the neighbouring Abyan, from the STC earlier this week and secured most of the oil producing province of Shabwa and its liquefied natural gas terminal in Balfaf.
The separatists and Hadi’s government are nominally united under the Saudi-led coalition which intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to try to restore the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Hadi’s government was removed from power in the capital Sanaa by the Iranian-aligned Houthis in late 2014. His administration subsequently relocated to Aden.
But the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC), which accuses Hadi’s government of mismanagement, seized control of Aden after accusing a party allied to Hadi of being complicit in a Houthi attack on southern forces.
The standoff has exposed a rift between Gulf allies Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which in June scaled down its presence in Yemen under a Western pressure to end the devastating war, but continues to support thousands of southern separatist forces.
Saudi Arabia wants to resolve the standoff in the south to refocus the coalition on fighting the Houthis, who control Sanaa and most urban centres in the Arabian Peninsula nation.
The Aden crisis has also complicated UN efforts to implement peace deals elsewhere in the country and pave the way for negotiations to end a war that has killed tens of thousands and pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.