Fighters from Yemen’s dominant Houthi movement drew closer to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s refuge in Aden on Tuesday, taking over two towns north of the port city as columns advanced from different directions.
However, a Houthi official said that they were not targeting Aden but were defending the country against Islamist militants.
The Houthis and allied army units captured Kirsh, a town about 100 km (62 miles) north of Aden, after heavy fighting with forces loyal to Hadi, officials and residents said.
Kirsh sits astride a north-south highway and lies about a 40-minute drive to the north of al-Anad airbase, which is still in the hands of Hadi’s forces.
Other Houthi units overnight entered the Red Sea port of al-Mukha, security officials and residents said. That placed the Iranian-backed Houthis, who seized Yemen’s capital Sanaa in September, a short drive from the Bab al-Mandeb strait, a sealane vital to oil shipments.
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