Warplanes from a Saudi-led coalition have dropped weapons and medical supplies to fighters battling the Shi'ite Houthi rebels in the southern port city of Aden, Yemen.

According to residents and a local official, the Houthis and their supporters were forced to pull out of Crater neighbourhood and from one of Aden's presidential sites, which they took a day earlier.

Their withdrawal comes after a night of heavy fighting where an air strike hit the Ma'ashiq presidential palace. One Houthi tank was reportedly destroyed whilst another was seized by President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's loyalists.

The airstrikes campaign, which is in its ninth day, is aimed at putting an end to the Iranian-backed Houthi advance, yet in spite of this, they have gained further ground in Aden, Yemen's economic centre to force the Saudi airdrop.

Coalition forces have not confirmed the airdrop.

The sectarian violence in the country is spiralling out of control as the influence of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) intensifies in the region.

According to residents in the town of Mukalla, over 150 AQAP fighters guarded the streets after taking a central bank office and breaking into a prison, freeing a number of inmates including an al-Qaeda leader.

The Sunni al-Qaeda Islamists are opposed to the Shi'ite Houthis.

The tense situation in Yemen has prompted a number of countries to evacuate their citizens and a Chinese frigate has evacuated 255 foreigners from the country. The evacuees were from Pakistan, Ethiopia, Singapore, Italy, Germany, Poland, Ireland, Britain, Canada and Yemen who all requested Chinese assistance.

A diplomatic source said: "The Chinese ship was in the right place at the right time."

Speaking to China Central Television, one woman said: "We are really thankful to the Chinese government, who really helped us, and took us out [with] the school children."

China had earlier extracted 571 of its own nationals.