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Saudi-led warplanes pound Aden as street fighting traps residents

Airstrikes hit Aden where residents say they are experiencing the worst fighting yet since launch of Saudi-led operation
Armed Hadi loyalists on patrol to prevent Houthis from advancing in Aden's Kreater region this week (AA)

A Saudi-led coalition pressed on with air strikes Thursday against Houthi militias in south Yemen where fierce clashes raged between the group and southern pro-government fighters, sources said.

Fighting is reportedly centred around the city's main airport with Houthis and local resistance groups trading fire in the nearby district of Khor Maksar and Dar Saad, just outside the southern capital. 

Shafea Sadeeq, an Aden resident, told MEE that the fighting was taking place in the Khor Makser, Dar Saad, Crater, Mualla and Sheikh Othman districts in Aden, although it has been difficult to independently verify where exactly the fighting is happening. 

“People are [being] displaced from districts where there is fighting into other districts where there has, until now, been no fighting," he said. "But it is a problem trying to find a quiet place in Aden – there is bombardment almost everywhere.”

"The situation is difficult, because people cannot move out of Aden itself because the roads are cut. It's really difficult to escape from Aden.”

Local residents also confirmed to Reuters that the battle is the worst seen in over a month of war. 

"The scene is disastrous, not just in the streets where fighting is going on but inside houses where families are often trapped and terrified," local activist Ahmed al-Awgari told Reuters.

Sara al-Zawqari, Sanaa-based host of a popular Yemeni talk radio show, tweeted that her family in Aden have run out of food and are stuck inside their house. 

Eight people were killed in overnight clashes in the southern capital, including five pro-government fighters and three civilians, according to the city's health chief al-Khader Laswar.

He said 44 others were wounded. Details of losses on the Houthi side were not available.

Houthis backed by troops loyal to former strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh had made advances in Aden, which is now defended by local militia dubbed "popular resistance" units that have sided with forces loyal to embattled President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi. 

Saudi Arabia assembled a multi-country coalition last month that launched attacks on Houthis following a request by Hadi, who has since fled Aden to Riyadh. 

Although the coalition said it had shifted the focus away from military operations on 21 April, strikes have continued to pound Houthis positions throughout Yemen.

South Yemen separatists have vowed to continue fighting the Houthis and Saleh-allied forces even if the airstrikes stop. 

"The southern [armed] resistance will not stop until driving out all the new and old Yemeni invaders like the Houthis and deposed president's [Saleh] forces from the south," Ali Haitham al-Ghouraib, a leading member of the Southern Movement, told MEE earlier this week.

Sadeeq, the Aden resident, said that the constant violence had strengthened the southern movement and the desire for South Yemen to once again separate from the north.

“The people, in general, they want an end to this, they want peace – and in general, people don't want to live in a united Yemen anymore," he said.

“In general, people of the South want separation from the north, because after all this killing and after all this war, how can we live with the northern Yemenis?”

“People want peace and separation.”

Overnight raids also targeted Houthis in the southern provinces of Lahj and Abyan, southern fighters said. 

The UN says more than 1,000 people - more than half of whom have been civilians - have been killed in fighting in Yemen since late March. 

- Reporting by Dania Akkad, Alex MacDonald, Arwa Ibrahim and Simona Sikimic

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