Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi remained in the southern city of Aden on Wednesday despite a military offensive by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels to dislodge him, Foreign Minister Riad Yassin has told Al Arabiya Channel.
Earlier reports by the Associated Press and Agence France-Presse said the president had fled Aden after the Houthi rebels captured nearby airbase and advanced toward the city.
But Foreign Minister Yassin told Al Arabiya News Channel that Hadi remained in Aden, calling for foreign military support to repel the Houthi offensive.
Yassin said Hadi’s internationally recognized government would not be talking with the Houthi rebels until they return to their northern home province of Saada.
Meanwhile, unidentified warplanes flying over Aden fired missiles on Wednesday at a neighborhood where President Hadi's compound is located, residents said.
Anti-aircraft batteries opened fire at the planes, they said.
The Houthi’s offensive on the south took a major turn when they captured the al-Anad airbase where U.S. forces were stationed before they were evacuated on Friday.
Yemen has acknowledged that American personnel at the base were gathering intelligence for drone strikes before they pulled out.
After seizing al-Anad, Houthis advanced farther south and were just three kilometers (nearly two miles) away from Huta, the capital of Lahj province which is adjacent to Aden, the military official said.
The Houthi militia, backed by troops allied to former strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh, have clashed with forces loyal to Hadi in at least two southern provinces as they push towards Aden.
Yemen had asked the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday to back military action by “willing countries” to combat an advance by Shiite Muslim Houthi militia, according to a letter from President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi seen by Reuters.
Hadi wants the 15-member body to adopt a resolution to authorize “willing countries that wish to help Yemen to provide immediate support for the legitimate authority by all means and measures to protect Yemen and deter the Houthi aggression.”
But army officers loyal to Saleh said they would confront any foreign intervention to end the country's worsening conflict.
“We express our total and utter rejection of any external interference in Yemeni affairs under any pretext and in any form and from any side,” the so-called Higher Committee to Preserve the Armed Forces and Security said in a statement.
The statement by the Higher Committee added that all armed forces members “will confront with all their strength and heroism” any threat to Yemen's unity and territorial integrity.
Saleh, who resigned in 2012 following nationwide protests, has been accused of backing the Shiite militia as he seeks to regain influence.
The Huthis seized the airport and a nearby military base Sunday in Taez, 180 kilometers (110 miles) north of Aden and seen as a strategic entry point to Hadi's southern stronghold.
Yemen is increasingly divided between a north controlled by the Huthis, allegedly backed by Iran, and a south dominated by Hadi supporters.
The U.N. Security Council, Western countries and Gulf Arab monarchies have backed Hadi as the country's legitimate ruler.