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Yemen defense minister escapes house arrest

Gen. Mahmoud al-Subaihi was to resume his duties from second city Aden, a source in the president’s office said

Published: Updated:

Yemen’s defense minister has successfully escaped from a Shiite militia controlling Sanaa despite being under house arrest, Al Arabiya News Channel reported Sunday.

Gen. Mahmoud al-Subaihi was to resume his duties from second city Aden on Sunday after defecting from the Shiite militia which controls the capital, a source in the president's office said, Agence France Presse report.

Subaihi, who had been placed under house arrest by Houthis when they seized Sanaa on Feb. 6, fled to Aden on Saturday.

Sources told Al Arabiya that Houthi rebels raided Subaihi’s house and were looking for him in the streets of Sanaa.

Last month, Yemeni President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi also fled house arrest in Sanaa and resurfaced in Aden, where he retracted his resignation.

Subaihi was a member of Hadi’s government which had resigned in January after mounting pressure from the Houthis.

On Saturday, an aide to Hadi said the Yemeni president considers the southern port city now the country’s capital, according to Agence France-Presse.

“Aden became the capital of Yemen as soon as the Houthis occupied Sanaa,” the aide quoted Hadi as saying in reference to their takeover of the city several months ago.

Hadi’s claim is purely symbolic, as moving the capital would require a change to the constitution, but it reflects the president’s determination to hold out against Houthi efforts to extend their sway.

The southern city, the country’s second largest, was capital of a once independent south Yemen.

(With AFP)