Sanaa: Saudi-backed Yemeni troops and fighters have driven Shiite rebels out of two major neighborhoods in the southern port city of Aden, Thursday, prompting street celebrations by residents after weeks of fierce fighting.
Residents said armored vehicles and troops have deployed in the neighborhoods of Crater and Mualla, where fighting had intensified earlier as part of an offensive to regain control of the port city from the Shiite rebels and allied forces.
"Today we are free," Aseel Mohsen, a resident of Mualla said by telephone, as celebratory gunfire broke out in the background. She said she had spent the last couple of days mostly holed up with 30 other people in the basement of their apartment building where they were taking cover from the intense fighting.
"We can now go down and prepare and shop for Eid," Mohsen said, in reference to the feast that follows Islam's holy month of Ramadan, which ends Thursday in most of the Muslim world.
A U.N. Brokered truce, which had largely failed to hold, is expected to end with the conclusion of the holy month of Ramadan. The truce was intended to put an end to months of punishing fighting in the war-torn impoverished Gulf nation and allow for the dispersing of much-needed humanitarian aid.
Fierce fighting in Aden broke out in March as empowered Iran-allied Shiite rebels expanded their bid for power from the Yemeni capital Sanaa, which they overran in September. The rebels have allied with several military units loyal to Yemen's former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The offensive, closely coordinated with the Saudi-led coalition, is a serious blow to the Shiite rebels, who have taken control of several provinces in Yemen, and driven the country's internationally-recognized president into exile. President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has been living in Saudi Arabia since March. The rebels, and allied forces, remain in control of the capital and other provinces.