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Houthi rebels advance towards Aden

Houthi rebels and militias loyal to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh have seized parts of Yemen's southern city of Ta'izz, including the airport, security sources reported on Sunday. The city is regarded as a strategic entry point to Aden. It was seized after clashes took place with forces loyal to the current President Abed-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Al-Jazeera reported that dozens of tanks and armoured personnel carriers carrying Houthi rebels had crossed into Al-Dhalie and Aden governorates. Ta'izz airport was seized amid demonstrations against both the Houthis and ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is accused of backing the Shia rebels.

Ahmed Al-Wafi, a local political activist, told Al-Jazeera that the Houthis had taken full control of Ta'izz military airbase, which lies around 180km north of Aden, and had deployed soldiers to man checkpoints at the city's entry points and streets.

According to Agence France-Presse, a military source claimed that troops loyal to Hadi and southern paramilitary forces had deployed in Lahj province, north of Aden, in anticipation of a possible advance by the Houthis.

Meanwhile, anti-aircraft guns opened fire at an unidentified plane flying over Hadi's compound in Aden on Sunday and appeared to force it away, eyewitnesses told Reuters news agency. It was the third incident of its kind in the past four days in which unidentified aircraft have flown over the compound where Hadi is based; bombs were dropped on one such occasion, although no casualties were reported.

A spokesman for the Yemen Embassy in Washington said that the country was teetering on the brink of full-scale civil war. "I hate to say this," wrote Mohammed Al-Basha on Twitter, "but I am hearing the loud and clear beating of the drums of war in Yemen."

President Hadi has stressed the importance of national unity, and has accused Iran of supporting the Houthi rebels in his country.

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