Early this morning, pro-Hadi troops advanced from Aden and subsequently stormed the nearby Ansar al-Sharia (al-Qaeda) stronghold of al-Houta.

Al-Qaeda quickly withdrew from the city although a 2-hour battle of sporadic skirmishes did take place. The offensive was backed by about a dozen Apache helicopters from the Saudi-led coalition while tens of airstrikes pounded Ansar al-Sharia positions shortly before Hadi troops entering the city.

During the battle, some 48 Ansar al-Sharia militants surrendered to pro-Hadi troops while about a dozen casualties were reported on both sides.

Hours later, a car bomb – believed to have been detonated by local Ansar al-Sharia sympathisers – blew up outside the Foreign Ministry building in the city of Aden. While no casualties were reported, the attack was likely retaliation for the loss of al-Houta.

This advance comes as the Aden-based Hadi government have settled for a ceasefire with Houthi tribesmen. However, Ansar al-Sharia and ISIS – who have made their presence known in the country – have not agreed to the peace deal.

Some 13 months ago, Saudi Arabia and many neighbouring Gulf States entered the Yemeni civil war in response to Houthi tribesmen and the pro-Houthi Republican Guard seizing the country’s capital, Sana’a.

Until today’s loss of al-Houta, Ansar al-Sharia had suffered few territorial losses as their forces have gradually seized more and more areas in the southern and eastern countryside of Yemen.

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Student currently living in Denmark. Special focus on news from Syria, MENA map-making and strategical military analysis.

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