Obama, Saudi King discuss 'urgency' of stopping Yemen fighting: White House
Mohammed Huwais (AFP)
US President Barack Obama and
After discussion about a recently inked nuclear deal with Iran, the White House said Obama and Salman "also spoke about the urgency of stopping the fighting in Yemen and the importance of ensuring that assistance can reach Yemenis on all sides of the conflict."
Forces loyal to Yemen's exiled president, backed by Saudi-led air and naval support, recaptured the airport in second city Aden Tuesday after a four-month battle with Iran-backed rebels.
Fighting in the port city escalated as UN chief Ban Ki-Moon expressed disappointment that
The coalition backing pro-government forces denied its warships pounded the rebels as they pulled back from positions in Aden they had held since forcing President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi into exile in Riyadh in March.
Coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed al-Assiri also downplayed the loyalists' airport seizure.
"We don't want to claim victory because it is a step, not more than that," Assiri told AFP.
"They have a lot of work to do to secure positions that they control today."
Hadi was personally supervising "Operation Golden Arrow for the Liberation of Aden", said his chief of staff, Mohammed Marem.
The Huthis and their allies later seized the presidential palace and Aden's main commercial port.
Military sources in Aden said pro-Hadi fighters were benefiting from ground support by Yemeni forces trained in Saudi Arabia, in addition to sophisticated weapons delivered by the coalition.
"Forces recently trained in Saudi Arabia are strongly participating in the fighting alongside the Popular Resistance," said one source, referring to the southern militia that has been the mainstay of support for Hadi so far.
The rebels overran the capital Sanaa unopposed in September and went on to seize much of the rest of the
Ban 'very disappointed'
Coalition air strikes targeted Sanaa, the rebels' northern stronghold of Saada and the Hijja region in the north, residents said.
Aden's oil refinery -- Yemen's biggest -- was ablaze on Tuesday after being hit by rockets during the fighting for the city. There were conflicting claims about which side caused the fire.
Fighting raged despite
The UN chief said he was "very much disappointed" by the failure of the
"We have not lost hope and discussions are ongoing," Stephane Dujarric said.
He defended the decision to call the ceasefire, saying UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed "had received the commitments he felt were necessary for us to come out with this announcement".
But coalition spokesman Assiri said Hadi's government did not ask for a pause, Huthis had not committed to it and there was no "mechanism to monitor" and prevent violations.
The United Nations has declared Yemen a level-3 humanitarian emergency, the highest on its scale.
More than 21.1 million people -- over 80 percent of Yemen's population -- need aid, with 13 million facing food shortages, while access to water has become difficult for 9.4 million people.
The UN says the conflict has killed more than 3,200 people, about half of them civilians, since late March.
Despite the fighting, refugees from the Horn of Africa
Johannes Van Der Klaauw, the UN's humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, said 37,000 migrants arrived this year -- almost one-third of them after the coalition began its air strikes.
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