The Houthi rebels have continued their push into the southern city of Aden, reportedly reaching the center of the city on Thursday. The move comes despite eight days of airstrikes from a Saudi-led coalition that seeks to reimpose both stability and the internationally recognized leader, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia last week .
On resident of Aden told Reuters that “”No one is on the streets – it’s like a curfew”. “People are afraid and terrified by the bombardment,” he said.
The news comes as unconfirmed reports said unidentified troops landed by sea in Aden. If verified, this would be the first incursion of foreign troops into Yemen since ‘Operation Decisive Storm’ was launched by Saudi Arabia and its partners on March 25. A Saudi adviser told the BBC that no coalition or Saudi had landed in the port and said that that the forces in question were troops loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Forces loyal to Saleh have been in an alliance with the Houthis.
On Tuesday Yemen’s foreign minster called on Arab states intervene in Yemen by sending in ground forces. Asked about a ground intervention in a television interview, Riad Yassin said “yes, we are asking for that, and soon as possible, in order to save our infrastructure and save Yemenis under siege in many cities.”
Meanwhile, a massive jailbreak in Mukalla, 300 miles east of Aden, took place amid the continued instability in the country. Suspected al Qaeda fighters stormed the central prison in the city and freed at least 150 prisoners. Several of those freed were believed to be al Qaeda militants, including Khaled Batarfi, who was a provincial al Qaeda leader.
Batarfi was arrested four years ago.
The presence of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has only added to an already complicated conflict. The group maintains areas of influence in central and eastern Yemen.
Competing with AQAP, the Islamic State group has been growing in strength over the past several months. The organization took responsibility for a series of suicide bombings in Sanaa that killed over 130 people on March 20.
Both organizations have taken advantage of the growing instability and chaos in the country to continue and expand its activities.