The base Al-Anad
Houthis militias in Yemen on Wednesday captured a major airbase near President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi's southern refuge. Washington used to wage a drone war against Al-Qaeda militants from this base, with permission from the Yemeni government. But US military personnel evacuated the base on Friday because of security concerns.
After seizing the Al-Anad base, the Houthis advanced farther south and were just three kilometres away from Houta, the capital of Lahj province which is adjacent to Aden, the military official said. The Houthi militia, backed by troops allied to former strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh, have clashed with forces loyal to Hadi in at least two southern provinces as they push towards Aden. Saleh, who resigned in 2012 following nationwide protests, has been accused of backing the Shia militia as he seeks to regain influence.
The Houthis seized the airport and a nearby military base Sunday in Taez, 180 kilometres (110 miles) north of Aden and seen as a strategic entry point to Hadi's southern stronghold.
The UN Security Council, Western countries and Gulf Arab monarchies have backed Hadi as the country's legitimate ruler. On Tuesday, Hadi called for the UN Security Council to pass a binding resolution asking countries to provide immediate support "by all means and measures to protect Yemen and deter the Houthi aggression expected to occur at any hour from now" in several strategic cities, including Aden.