ADEN, Aug 29, (Agencies): Southern Yemeni separatists vowed on Thursday to avenge a government assault on their positions in Aden and brought in reinforcements from elsewhere, threatening an escalation in fighting between nominal allies in the country’s complex war.
The separatists and Yemen’s internationally recognised government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi are supposed allies in a Saudi-led coalition embroiled in a largely stalemated war against Iran-aligned Houthis who hold the capital Sanaa in the north and most other populated areas.
But the United Arab Emirates, the second major outside power in the coalition, has fallen out with Hadi’s side as it includes a party the UAE sees as close to the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Gulf state seeks to neutralise across the Middle East. Hadi’s government said on Wednesday it had recaptured Aden airport and controlled most of the southern port city, an assertion quickly disputed by the separatists.
On Thursday, the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) said some of its troops positioned on the outskirts of the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, which is under Houthi control, had returned to Aden to join the battle against Hadi’s forces. “To whoever said the Southern Resistance has fled, I say: We are here,” Hani Ben Brik, STC’s vice-president, said in a video shared on social media showing him with dozens of his fighters outside Aden’s airport building. Yemen’s foreign minister accused the United Arab Emirates, which backs the separatists, of carrying out air strikes on government positions in Aden.
A Yemeni official said over 30 soldiers were killed by air strikes on the eastern outskirts. The aid charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said it had taken in 51 casualties during heavy fighting in Aden on Wednesday, 10 of them already dead when they reached its hospital. “It’s total chaos here. There was fighting in the city all day yesterday.
Things appear to have calmed down a bit this morning, but we expect the hostilities to resume at any point,” MSF programme manager Caroline Seguin said in a statement. Reuters could not independently confirm the air strike or casualty reports, and UAE officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Saudi-led coalition to support legitimacy in Yemen on Thursday announced that Saudi’s Abha airport was hit by a ‘hostile projectile’ fired by the Houthi militias without causing casualties. The Arab Coalition fighting Houthis in Yemen said a “hostile projectile” fired by the Iran-backed group landed in Abha International Airport late Wednesday but caused no injuries, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) quoted the coalition military spokesman as saying early on Thursday. Colonel Al-Maliki said the incident took place at 11:35 pm on Wednesday.
Colonel Al-Maliki explained that the incident is being pursued by the competent authorities and that there are no injuries – thankfully – until the publication of this statement,” a statement on SPA read. “The Houthi terrorist militia continues its unethical practices of targeting civilians and civilian infrastructures against international humanitarian law and its customary rules.