ADEN. — Saudi-led helicopters attacked Al-Qaeda militants in Aden overnight in an effort to dislodge them from a stronghold in the southern port city, killing at least 18 people, medics and a security official said yesterday.
The assault took place as Saudi-backed forces supporting President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi fought to widen their control of Taiz in the southwest of Yemen after breaking a siege there on Friday.
Islamist militants from Al-Qaeda and Islamic State have exploited the conflict to expand their control, especially in areas where Hadi supporters have managed to expel the Iran-allied Houthis, including in Aden and Lahej provinces.
Witnesses and medics said Apache helicopters from the Saudi-led coalition struck armored vehicles and a government compound used by the militants in al-Mansoura district, a stronghold in north Aden. There was no immediate comment from the coalition.
Medics said a total of 18 people have been killed — 17 suspected militants and one civilian bystander — and at least 23 civilians and militants were wounded. Three members of the security forces were also injured.
Security forces cordoned off an area of al-Mansoura district where dozens of suspected militants are believed to be holed up, while warplanes from the Saudi-led coalition dropped leaflets on the area telling residents to stay home and report any militants to authorities.
A tenuous calm in the district was broken occasionally in the afternoon with bursts of gunfire.
A Reuters reporter saw the rubble of a butcher’s shop and the wreckage of cars. Electricity was cut across the district and food shops remained closed.
Shops and businesses closed as security forces sealed off a block in the area, where dozens of suspected militants are believed to be holed up.
The city’s governor said the operation was the second phase of a government campaign to restore state control over the city, the temporary seat of the Yemeni government. — Reuters.