A Southern People’s Resistance militant loyal to Hadi mans an anti-aircraft machine gun the militia seized from the army in Al-Habilin, in Yemen’s province of Lahej. REUTERS/Nabeel Quaiti
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The city is visibly expecting assault, whether from the forces of Hadi's rival, ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has allied himself with the Shiite rebels, or from Al-Qaeda militants.Early this week, Hadi's forces fended off an attempt by police commandos loyal to Saleh to capture the airport. But there are still two army units loyal to Saleh in the city. And Sunday, the Shiite rebels, backed by forces loyal to Saleh, seized Yemen's third largest city, Taiz, 140 kilometers to the northwest of Aden. Hadi Saturday accused Saleh's forces, which had held Al-Houta, of intentionally surrendering it to the militants to create even more chaos, and he sent a force led by his defense minister, Maj.Aden is Yemen's second-most-important city and the country's economic hub, and as long as Hadi was here he could reasonably claim to still be president.Saudi Arabia and the U.S. strongly backed Hadi, and the new president proved a stauncher ally to the U.S. than Saleh in the fight against Al-Qaeda's branch in the country.Hadi's forces were able to fend off the airport assault by the pro-Saleh police commandos Thursday and even subsequently took the commandos' base.
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