Shiite Rebels In Yemen Reportedly Seize Parts Of Southern City
Updated at 3:05 p.m. ET
Houthi rebels who have already seized most of Yemen's capital, Sanaa, have now captured parts of one of the country's largest cities, a day after the U.S. withdrew about 100 U.S. military personnel from another city besieged by rival al-Qaida fighters.
The Shiite Houthis have been battling not only the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, a U.S. ally, but also al-Qaida fighters and forces of the self-declared Islamic State. On Friday, suicide bombers killed nearly 140 people at two mosques in the capital that are said to be frequented by Houthis. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.
On Sunday, the Iranian-backed Houthis seized the airport in the southwestern city of Taiz.
The latest fighting comes as the U.N. Security Council was meeting today to discuss the situation in Yemen.
Reuters reports that eyewitnesses in Taiz report "seeing dozens of tanks and military vehicles headed southward from Houthi-controlled areas toward Taiz, while activists in the city said Houthi gunmen shot into the air to disperse protests by residents demonstrating against their presence."
Late Saturday, the U.S. State Department confirmed that U.S. forces had pulled out of al-Anad air base after an offensive by al-Qaida fighters against the nearby city of al-Houta.
"Due to the deteriorating security situation in Yemen, the U.S. government has temporarily relocated its remaining personnel out of Yemen," spokesman Jeff Rathke said.
He said that Washington would continue to support the "political transition" in Yemen, but added: "There is no military solution to Yemen's current crisis."
In January, Houthi rebels launched what amounted to a coup against Hadi in the capital, forcing the president and his entourage to flee.
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