First cargo docks in Aden since war came to south Yemen's ex-capital

AFP , Friday 21 Aug 2015

Port of Aden
(File Photo) A Yemeni man looks at a World Food Program ship at the Port of Aden, Yemen, Tuesday, July 21, 2015 (AP)

A commercial ship docked in Aden on Friday, the first to reach the former southern capital since Yemen's devastating war came to the port city in March.

The Venus, operated by United Arab Shipping Co, carried a cargo of 350 containers of products ordered by businesses in Aden, said port deputy director Aref al-Shaabi.

"This signals the return of life to the port of Aden and this will benefit the city and southern provinces," Shaabi told AFP.

Shaabi said other ships were expected in Aden, the impoverished country's main port and capital of the former South Yemen, in coming days.

Since pro-government forces recaptured the city from Shia Houthi rebels last month, several planes carrying humanitarian aid have landed at Aden's repaired international airport, which had been the scene of heavy clashes.

And several passenger flights have also arrived, allowing some residents to return home after having fled the violence.

Houthi rebels and troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh attacked and seized Aden in March after taking over the capital unopposed last year.

Their advance south prompted President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee to Riyadh and sparked a Saudi-led aerial bombing campaign on rebel targets across the country.

Bolstered by heavy weaponry and Gulf troops as well as Yemeni fighters trained in Saudi Arabia, loyalists have retaken Aden and four other southern provinces.

Pro-Hadi forces have turned their sights on battling rebels for control of Yemen's third city, Taez, seen as the gateway to the capital.

With fighting still raging across much of Yemen and a UN warning that the country is on the brink of famine, world powers have voiced concern over both Saudi-led air strikes and rebel shelling in the western port city of Hodeida.

The European Union joined US criticism of attacks carried out Tuesday on Hodeida, a vital point of entry for relief supplies.

Washington said the air strikes seemingly targeted Houthi rebels but also reportedly killed dock workers and damaged infrastructure.

"We are deeply concerned by the August 18 attack on critical infrastructure at the port of Hodeida," National Security Council spokesman Alistair Baskey said.

"The port is a crucial lifeline used to provide medicine, food and fuel to Yemen's population."

The EU said the "recent air strikes and shelling of Hodeida port facilities have created an additional and immediate obstacle to the import of food, fuel, medicines and other critical goods".

Yemen's war has killed nearly 4,500 people, many of them civilians, according to the United Nations.

UN aid chief Stephen O'Brien said he was concerned the air strikes could have a severe impact on an already dire humanitarian situation.

Some 80 percent of Yemen's population of 26 million are in desperate need of aid, and over a million have been driven from their homes in the nearly five-month war.

Amid the conflict in a country whose government has been exiled, an apparent US drone strike Friday killed three suspected Al-Qaeda militants in Marib, east of Sanaa, tribal sources said.

The three were in a vehicle struck at dawn by a missile in the oil province's desert region of Harib, the sources said.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has taken advantage of Yemen's chaos to seize the southern port city of Mukalla, capital of the vast Hadramawt province.

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