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UN ship brings food aid to Aden as fighting rages

People and vendors yesterday gathered on the rubble of shops destroyed by a Saudi-led air strike that hit a marketplace in Yemen's capital Sanaa on Monday. Photo: Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

People and vendors yesterday gathered on the rubble of shops destroyed by a Saudi-led air strike that hit a marketplace in Yemen's capital Sanaa on Monday. Photo: Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

A ship carrying food aid for Aden’s beleaguered population docked in the southern Yemeni port yesterday, the first in months of warfare that have devastated the city, as rival factions fought in the northern suburbs.

The ship carried enough UN food aid to feed 180,000 people for a month, a small measure of relief for a city that has been severely damaged by the conflict between Houthi militiamen and forces loyal to deposed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

It had been anchored off Aden since June 26 but had to wait for a safe opportunity to berth, the World Food Programme said.

“WFP made repeated attempts to send ships to Aden, all of which until today were blocked due to severe fighting in the port area,” a statement said.

The delivery was the largest in months. Two UN truck convoys had made it through by land last week but the airport, the scene of heavy combat, has been closed.

Residents said loyalist fighters backed by Saudi-led air strikes battled to take back Aden’s northern suburbs from the Iranian-allied Houthis yesterday after completing their capture of the city centre.

The Houthi militia and its army allies traded artillery fire with the Saudi-backed forces in the Dar Saad and al Alam areas. Residents and local fighters said Houthi shelling killed a family of eight in the Dar Saad area.

Assisted by the air strikes, local anti-Houthi forces broke months of stalemate in Aden last week by seizing the airport and then driving the Houthis out of their last redoubt in the west of the city.

Saudi Arabia intervened in Yemen’s war on March 26 in an effort to stop Houthi forces taking Aden, the last city nominally controlled by Hadi. Riyadh says it wants to restore Hadi to power in the capital Sanaa, which the Houthis seized in September.

Almost four months of air raids and civil war have killed more than 3,500 people in Yemen. Aden has suffered especially, with acute shortages of food, medicine and fuel.

A technical team from the United Arab Emirates has arrived to repair the battle-damaged international airport, fighters said.

Officials in the anti-Houthi forces say their offensive had been planned for weeks and benefited from training and arms deliveries from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The Emirates’ official news agency WAM said yesterday that an officer from the country had been killed in the service of the Arab campaign, but did not specify where.

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