An earlier version of this article misidentified Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi in the headline as Yemen's prime minister. Hadi is Yemen's president.

Rebel forces have withdrawn from Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's palace in his former southern stronghold in Aden after overnight air raids by the Saudi-led coalition, a senior official said. 

"The Houthi militia and their allies withdrew before dawn from the Al-Maashiq palace," the official in Aden, who did not want to be named, said on Friday.

A security source and the official Saudi news agency SPA also reported the rebels had quit the palace.

"It was just a gimmick, and they were never going to be there for a long time," Muhamed Qubaty, a former political advisor to Yemeni government,  told Al Jazeera.

"The bigger issue is the continued suffering of the civilians," he said.

The rebels had seized the hilltop complex a day earlier after fierce fighting with supporters of Hadi, who has taken refuge in Saudi Arabia.

Under pressure from pro-Hadi fighters, the rebel forces retreated to the nearby central district of Khor Maksar.

The Saudi-led coalition launched an air war, called Operation Decisive Storm, on March 26 to try to stop an advance by the Houthi rebels and allied military units loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Hadi fled to Aden from Sanaa after the rebels seized power in the capital in February, and the southern palace came under fire from warplanes twice during his stay.

He went into hiding last week as the Houthis bore down on what was his last stronghold, later surfacing in the Saudi capital as Riyadh launched air strikes on the rebels.

Weapons airdropped

Also on Friday, Al Jazeera sources said that troops were airdropping weapons and ammunitions for Hadi's supporters and fighters.


Meanwhile, China said it had helped 10 countries evacuate 225 of their citizens from Yemen, the first time Beijing has assisted in the evacuation of foreign nationals during an international crisis, state media reported. 

Speaking on Thursday, UN aid chief Valerie Amos said at least 519 people had been killed and nearly 1,700 injured in two weeks of fighting in Yemen, adding she was "extremely concerned" for the safety of trapped civilians.

 

Source: Agencies