Several ministers from Yemen’s exiled government have returned to the country for the first time since being forced to flee by Houthi rebels in March.
The ministers, accompanied by senior intelligence officials, flew by helicopter to a military base on the outskirts of the southern city of Aden.
They were to make preparations for the government’s return, officials said.
Southern militiamen backed by Saudi-led air strikes have driven the rebels out of much of Aden in the past three days.
On Wednesday, they retook the main seaport and neighbouring district of Mualla.
‘Revival of institutions’
A government official told the Reuters news agency the delegation that flew into Aden on Thursday included the ministers of interior and transport, a former interior minister, the intelligence chief and deputy speaker of parliament.
President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi had told them to “prepare the security situation and ensure stability ahead of a revival of the institutions of state in Aden”, the official added.
A major offensive to regain control of Aden, dubbed “Operation Golden Arrow”, was launched on Monday by local militiamen from the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) and Yemeni soldiers recently trained in Saudi Arabia, which is leading a coalition of mostly Sunni Arab countries.
With the help of air strikes and about 100 armoured vehicles reportedly provided by the coalition, they have been able to recapture the city’s seaport, the international airport, and a large proportion of the peninsula where much of Aden is located.
On Thursday, local fighters told Reuters that they were besieging the two main districts still under Houthi control, and that a key checkpoint outside the city was being shelled by coalition warships deployed in the Gulf of Aden.
The losses in Aden represent the biggest setback for the Houthis since the Saudi-led air campaign against them started on 26 March, a day after the rebels and soldiers loyal to ousted former president Ali Abdullah Saleh entered the city.
Mr Hadi had taken refuge there the previous month after the Houthis consolidated their control of the capital, Sanaa, and placed him under effective house arrest.
The offensive in Aden began after the collapse of a ceasefire that was supposed to have taken effect before midnight on Friday to allow for aid deliveries.
The UN says more than 3,200 people, half of them civilians, have been killed in air strikes and fighting on the ground in the past 15 weeks.
Another one million civilians have been displaced by the conflict and more than 80% of Yemen’s 25 million people now need some form of humanitarian aid.