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Yemen rebels advance on key southern airbase

By AFP - Jun 21,2016 - Last updated at Jun 21,2016

ADEN — Iran-backed rebels advanced Tuesday towards Yemen’s biggest airbase after clashes with government forces supported by a Saudi-led coalition that killed 30 people, military officials said.

Al Anad, 60 kilometres north of second city Aden where the government is based, housed US troops overseeing a drone war against Al Qaeda until March 2014 when it was overrun by Houthi rebels.

The airbase was recaptured by government forces in August last year as they made gains across the south against the Shiite insurgents.

The Houthis and allied troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh have now recaptured a mountain overlooking the base, after fierce battles that left 18 rebels and six loyalists dead, a military official said.

The rebels are now in a position to directly target Al Anad, which lies around 20 kilometres away.

Coalition warplanes bombed the advancing insurgents, but a missile hit a nearby house by mistake, killing six members of one family, another military official said.

Fighting has continued on several fronts in Yemen despite a UN-brokered ceasefire which took effect in April 11 and paved the way for ongoing talks in Kuwait.

The coalition said it intercepted a ballistic missile fired early Tuesday towards the city of Marib, east of Sanaa.

The Houthis overran the capital in late 2014 before moving into other parts of Yemen, prompting a Saudi-led coalition to intervene in March last year.

The UN says more than 6,400 people have been killed in Yemen since then, mostly civilians.

 

Fighting has driven 2.8 million people from their homes and left more than 80 per cent of the population needing humanitarian aid.

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