Yemen Crisis: Diplomats and U.N. Staff Flee as Houthis Target Aden

 / Updated  / Source: NBC News

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ADEN, Yemen — Saudi Arabia's navy evacuated dozens of diplomats from Yemen on Saturday and the United Nations pulled out international staff after a third night of Saudi-led air strikes trying to stem advances by Iranian-allied Houthi fighters.

Residents reported heavy clashes between the Houthis and mainly Sunni tribal fighters in the south of the country, while the air campaign sought to stall a fresh offensive by the Shi'ite Muslim group on Aden from the east.

Eighty-six foreign diplomats and Saudi nationals were shipped out of Aden to the Red Sea port of Jeddah, a Saudi military officer said, escaping the city where President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi had taken refuge until Thursday, when he left for Egypt to shore up Arab support for his crumbling authority.

At the Arab summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Hadi urged Yemen's army to protect state institutions and obey the orders of Yemen's "legitimate leadership." He also underlined the regional dimensions of the conflict, calling the Houthis "Iran's puppet."

The director general of Yemen's Health Ministry, al-Khadher Laswar, said more than 62 people had been killed and 452 wounded in the city since Wednesday. Explosions at Aden's largest ammunition depot on Saturday wounded nine people, he said.

In the capital Sanaa, which has been under Houthi control since September, the United Nations said most of its 100 international staff were evacuated. Airport officials said dozens of other foreigners working for international oil companies and NGOs also flew out to Ethiopia and Djibouti.

On Friday, the Houthis and allied army units gained their first foothold on Yemen's Arabian Sea coast by seizing Shaqra, 60 miles east of Aden, allowing them to open a new front to march on the south's main city.

IN-DEPTH

— Reuters

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