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Pro-government forces assault final rebel stronghold in Aden

Witnesses say the cornered Houthi rebels have committed mass retaliations against Yemeni civilians.

By Fred Lambert
Pro-government forces assault final rebel stronghold in Aden
A militant loyal to Yemen's President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi takes position in Taiz, Yemen, on March, 30, 2015. On July 20, 2015, forces loyal to Hadi advanced into the final district held by Houthi rebels in the port city of Aden. A World Food Progamme ship was able to land in the port city with humanitarian aid the following day. Photo by Anees Mahyoub/UPI | License Photo

ADEN, Yemen, July 21 (UPI) -- Forces loyal to the ousted government in Yemen attacked into the last district held by the Houthi rebels in the city of Aden.

Army units and local militia known as Popular Resistance Committees seized most of the city's western Tawahi district, a spokesman told the BBC on Monday.

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The Houthis had been pushed into the district after pro-government forces, bolstered by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, re-captured a majority of Aden last week.

The renewed fighting abruptly halted a United Nations-brokered ceasefire designed to allow shipment of humanitarian aid into Yemen and led to pro-government forces capturing the international airport in Aden on Wednesday.

RELATED First U.N. aid ship arrives in Aden, Yemen

By Thursday, with much of the port city in pro-government hands, Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi declared Aden "liberated," and several ministers of the exiled Yemeni government are reported to have returned to the city.

However, shelling from Houthi positions in Tawahi district reportedly killed more than 40 people and wounded at least 100 on Sunday.

Doctors with medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres told the BBC they had seen "massive retaliation against civilians by the Houthis."

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The Houthis denied shelling the northern suburb of Dar Saad, where the casualties occurred.

On Tuesday, a World Food Programme ship was able to dock at Aden's Al-Buraiqa port with 3,000 tons of food. Previous attempts to land in Aden had failed due to heavy fighting in the port city. According to the WFP, the shipment comprises a one-month food supply for 180,000 people.

The U.N. estimates 13 million people in Yemen are unable to meet their food needs. More than 3,200 have died in the last three months of airstrikes and ground fighting, and over a million have fled their homes.

The conflict began late last year after northern Shia rebels known as Houthis began clashing with the Sunni government of Hadi, taking much of the country, including the capital of Sanaa, by March. Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia, which in turn led a coalition of Gulf Arab allies in an air campaign against the rebels.

The Houthis have in the past acknowledged receiving economic aid from Iran, the region's Shia rival to the Sunni kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but Tehran has denied accusations of supplying the rebels with weapons.

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