Watch Video: At least 53 Dead in Clashes in Yemen’s Aden

Fierce clashes raged Monday between rebels and loyalist fighters in southernYemen, leaving nearly 100 dead in 24 hours, as the Red Cross faced delays to urgently needed aid deliveries. 

Relief workers have warned of a dire situation in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula state, where a Saudi-led coalition is waging an air war on Iran-backed Huthi Shiite rebels.

clashes in Yemen

At least 53 people have been killed in 24 hours of fighting between rebels and fighters loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi in the main southern city Aden, medical and army sources said on Monday. Seventeen civilians were said to be among the dead. Witnesses said that clashes continued on Monday as rebels tried to seize a port in the city, which sits on an extinct volcano jutting out into the sea. In the town of Daleh, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of Aden, at least 19 Huthi rebels and 15 pro-Hadi militiamen were killed in fighting overnight, local officials said. 

Seven more people were killed in clashes in the southern province of Abyan, where Hadi loyalists have besieged the base of a rebel army brigade loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is accused of backing the Huthis. Hadi, who is backed by the United Nations as Yemen’s legitimate leader, took refuge in Aden in February after the Huthis, who hail from the mountainous north, seized power in the capital Sanaa.

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Russia presented a draft resolution to the UN Security Council on Saturday calling for a humanitarian pause in the Saudi-led air war. Riyadh has assembled a coalition of five Gulf monarchies, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan to wage air raids on the Huthis. Pakistan said on Monday that it had been asked by Saudi Arabia to contribute aircraft, ships and ground troops to Operation Decisive Storm. Despite close ties with Riyadh, Pakistan has so far held back from joining the offensive, saying it does not want to get involved in any conflict that would inflame sectarian tensions. 

Shiite Iran has strongly criticised the intervention in Yemen by the coalition of largely Sunni Muslim nations, accusing Saudi Arabia of sowing instability with its air campaign. Tehran has angrily rejected accusations of arming the Huthis. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is due to visit Islamabad on Wednesday to discuss the situation, Pakistani Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said during a special parliamentary debate. “There should be no ambiguity that if the security of Saudi territory is at stake Pakistan will stand by for support,” he told lawmakers.