SANAA, Yemen, Aug. 4 (UPI) — Yemen’s largest air base has been retaken by pro-government coalition forces away from the control of Houthi rebels, officials announced Tuesday.
The al-Anad base, in southern Yemen’s Lahej province, is under complete government control after days of battle resulting in heavy casualties on both sides, according to Yemen’s defense ministry.
Pro-government coalition forces, led in part by Saudi Arabia, are attempting to restore the exiled Yemeni government.
The al-Anad base is nearly 25 square miles in size and holds a military airport, a war college and an arms depot. It was previously used by the United States to launch droneattacks on al-Qaida targets and to gather intelligence.
The Shiite Houthi rebels and its allies controlled al-Anad since March. The base was the next target to be retaken by pro-government forces after seizing control of the strategic city of Aden in July.
Several ministers of the Yemeni government returned to Aden after the city was taken back from Houthi rebels.
The delegation included the transport minister, the interior minister, the chief of intelligence and the deputy speaker of parliament. They arrived by helicopter from neighboring Saudi Arabia, where a government-in-exile was encouraged to stay intact.
Exiled President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi remained in Saudi Arabia, ordering the delegation to prepare the country for a revival of state institutions.
The loss of Aden and of the al-Anad base is a major setback for the Houthi rebels, who took control of Yemen in March.
Ed Adamczyk contributed to this report.