Yemen army forces allied with Houthi movement’s Ansarullah fighters have taken over the international airport of the southern port city of Aden, Yemeni officials say.
The Houthi fighters managed to capture the airport after intense fighting with forces loyal to Yemen’s fugitive President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, according to Yemeni security officials on Wednesday.
The takeover facilitates to a great extent the process of capturing the southern city by the Ansarullah fighters.
The move by the Houthis also aimed to cut off routes for Hadi to flee the city.
The development came as unnamed officials told the Associated Press that Yemen’s president has left the country by sea, on a boat from Aden.
Earlier in the day, an aide to the Yemeni fugitive president said he had been transferred to a “secure location within Aden.”
Members of the Houthi Ansarullah movement stepped into Aden on Wednesday after detaining Hadi’s Defense Minister Mahmoud al-Subaihi and transferring him to the capital, Sana’a.
“Subaihi was arrested in the city of Houta” in Lahij Province, Mohammed Abdulsalam, a spokesman for the Houthi movement, said in a statement aired by the Houthi-run al-Massira television.
Air traffic was also suspended at Aden’s international airport with an official saying, “Aden airport has been shut down and air traffic suspended due to the security situation.”
The latest developments come as Yemeni forces backed by Ansarullah revolutionaries seized the al-Anad air base, located about 50 kilometers north of Aden.
A spokesman for the Houthis said the ongoing conflict is aimed at fighting al-Qaeda militants and the country’s former president.
The spokesman added that the Houthis would respect the rights of people in southern Yemen.
Days earlier, Yemen’s Houthi movement named Major General Hussein Khairan as the new defense minister for the country.