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Mar 1, 6:29 AM EST

First Iran flight arrives in rebel-held Yemeni capital

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SANAA, Yemen (AP) -- The first direct flight from Iran to the rebel-held Yemeni capital has arrived, as the country's Shiite rebels formalize ties with the regional Shiite powerhouse.

Yemeni airport, security and transportation officials greeted the flight Sunday, an Airbus 310 carrying Iranians including aid workers from the Iranian Red Crescent.

The Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, signed an agreement with Iranian authorities in Tehran on Saturday to establish 14 direct flights per week between the two countries.

The rebels, who overran the capital, Sanaa, last September, are widely believed to have support from Iran, a claim they frequently denied. Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has fled Sanaa for the southern city of Aden, from where he says he is still the country's rightful ruler.

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