Saudi-backed forces loyal to Yemen’s exiled government have announced the recapture of Abyan province in a southern offensive that has seen key gains against the Houthi rebels.
Military officials who back President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi said on Tuesday that loyalist forces have retaken Loder, the last town in Abyan to fall from Houthi hands. “Abyan is now completely free” of the Shia rebels, one official said. Al Jazeera’s correspondent Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from Doha, described the development as “quite significant”.
“There is only one province in the south that is still under the control of the Houthis. Once they control the south, it is going to be quite massive, because then the government in exile is going to return … they will set up ministries, establish a base, from where they can continue the fight to control the capital,” our correspondent said.
The latest loyalist gains came as seven pro-government activists were handed over in Yemen’s second city, Aden, as part of a prisoner swap overseen by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Loyalists had already taken Abyan provincial capital, Zinjibar, from the rebels and their allies on Sunday, as they pressed an advance from Aden.