President of Yemen’s UN-recognised gov’t says forces pulled out of Aden to avoid city’s destruction after UAE air raids.
The president of Yemen‘s internationally recognised government has urged Saudi Arabia to intervene to stop the United Arab Emirates‘ backing for southern separatists fighting for control of the key southern city of Aden and its surrounding areas.
The statement by President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi on Thursday came after Yemeni officials accused the UAE of launching air raids on government forces in support of the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC), killing dozens of people.
The intense battles in recent weeks between Hadi’s forces and the STC’s fighters have opened a new front in Yemen’s multilayered war. The two sides were until recently allies in a Saudi-UAE-led military coalition fighting the Houthi rebels who control the country’s north.
Yemeni Information Minister Moammar al-Eryani said on Thursday that the UAE’s air attacks in Aden and its vicinities, as well as in Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province, had killed 40 combatants and wounded 70 civilians.
Separately, Yemen’s defence ministry said on Twitter that more than 300 people were killed and wounded by the UAE’s air raids.
In a statement on Thursday, Hadi, who is based in Saudi Arabia, said the government was facing “an armed rebellion” carried out by the UAE-backed STC’s militias aimed at hitting “the constitutional legitimacy of Yemen”.
“They have committed themselves to injustice, aggression and using armed forces against the Yemeni people in the southern governorates, using the UAE’s military arsenal in order to divide our country,” he added, calling on Riyadh “to intervene to stop this blatant intrusion by these militias and their aerial bombardment of our armed forces”.
Hadi said that following the air raids, the government forces withdrew “to the vicinity of Aden governorate in order to spare Aden” and its residents “the mad destruction” by the STC militias.
The UAE’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday that the air raids were aimed at “armed groups led by members of terrorist organisations” following “attacks on coalition forces at Aden airport”.
Aden has been the temporary seat of Hadi’s government since the Houthis seized Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, in 2015.