Shiite rebels and allied military units in Yemen defied Saudi-led airstrikes to seize a provincial capital in a heavily Sunni tribal area on Thursday as their patron Iran called the two-week air campaign a “crime” and appealed for peace talks.
The rebel fighters, known as Houthis, along with military units loyal to former autocrat Ali Abdullah Saleh, overran Ataq, capital of the oil-rich southeastern Shabwa province, after days of airstrikes and clashes with local Sunni tribes. The capture marked the rebels’ first significant gain since the Saudi-led bombing began.
The Saudi-led coalition has imposed an air and sea blockade on Yemen and targeted both rebels and military units loyal to Saleh, hoping to eventually allow Yemen’s internationally recognized President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to return to the country.
The coalition had hoped to keep the rebels out of the southern port city of Aden, which Hadi had declared his provisional capital after fleeing Sanaa earlier this year and before leaving the country last month. But there too the rebels and Saleh loyalists have advanced, sparking days of heavy clashes.
Read More: Yemen rebels gain as Iran calls Saudi air campaign a ‘crime’ | CNS News