Rebels loyal to the Shiite Houthi group seized control of a civilian airport and a military airbase in Al-Hudaydah, Yemen, after president Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi named Khaled Bahah as the new prime minister.
According to media reports, the rebels have set up checkpoints after taking over several military bases in Al-Hudaydah, which is located 125 miles west of the capital city of Sanaa with a population of more than two million.
The Shia rebels are believed to be supported by Iran and they also took control of Damar province and its provincial capital, also called Damar.
Anadolu Agency quoted an anonymous official as saying: "Militants stormed Al-Hudaydah’s airport and airbase without encountering resistance after having besieged several of the city’s key sites since Thursday night."
The official also said that the rebels had taken control over several important security sites in the city. With the possession of the port city, the rebel group will be able to exert control over the movement of oil tankers through the strategic Bab el-Mandeb waterway between the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa.
The Houthis have been in control of Sanaa since September 21, which they took after mass protests, leading to the resignation of prime minister Mohammed Basindawa.
The rebels, who are a Zaidi Shia group constituting nearly 30% of Yemen’s population, are traditionally based in the north and have been fighting to gain more control across the country.