Yemen troops seize northwestern port from Houthi rebels

AFP , Wednesday 6 Jan 2016

File Photo: Fighters loyal to Yemen's President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi flash the sign of victory after they managed to secure completely and take control of the port of the southern city of Aden, on January 4, 2016 (Photo: AFP)

Troops loyal to Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi seized a Red Sea port town Wednesday in the country's northwest following fierce fighting with Iran-backed Shia rebels, a military chief said.

"We have full control of the port and the town, along with its historic castle," Fifth Military Region commander General Adel al-Qumairi said of Midi.

Intensive clashes had raged in the area since mid-December when government forces trained in nearby Saudi Arabia crossed the border and seized the town of Haradh.

The rebels, known as Houthis, have reportedly used Midi's port to bring weapons into their traditional stronghold in the north.

Despite losing Midi, they and their allies of renegade troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, continue to control a long stretch of the coastline.

Government forces have enjoyed air support from the Saudi-led coalition, which launched a campaign against rebels in March after they advanced on the southern city of Aden where Hadi had taken refuge before fleeing to Riyadh.

The rebels continue to control the capital, which they overran 2014, but loyalists have captured areas east and northeast of the capital recently.

On Wednesday, coalition warplanes bombed rebel positions in Sanaa, including the presidential complex, witnesses said.

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