News   /   Yemen

UAE-backed separatists seize Aden military camps, presidential palace

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Members of UAE-backed southern Yemeni separatist forces stand by a tank during clashes with government forces in Aden, Yemen, August 10, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)

Separatists in southern Yemen, backed by the United Arab Emirates, have taken control of all military camps belonging to Saudi-backed militants loyal to ex-Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in the restive port city of Aden.

According to a Hadi government official, separatists on Saturday captured the last stronghold of the Saudi-allied forces in Aden as fighting raged between nominal allies who have turned on each other.

The separatists also took over the all-but empty presidential palace in Aden, a separatist military official said.

The official, speaking in a video statement circulated by supporters of the separatist movement, said the group had met no resistance. A witness told Reuters the separatists were now inside the palace.

Earlier, residents said that the battles initially centered on presidential palace and in a neighborhood, where self-proclaimed interior minister Ahmed al-Maysari lives.

Pro-Hadi officials said the separatists also took over Maysari’s house, which he had already vacated.

The separatists and Saudi-led militia have been engaged in fierce fighting in the port city, a gateway for commercial and aid supplies, for the past four days.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres voiced concerns about the violent clashes, calling on rival parties to cease hostilities and "engage in an inclusive dialogue to resolve their differences and address the legitimate concerns of all Yemenis."

According to the officials, who requested anonymity because they weren't authorized to brief reporters, dozens of people, both combatants and civilians, have been killed in the fighting in Aden this week, AP reported.

At least eight civilians were killed on Friday, medical sources said.

The Norwegian Refugee Council and Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE) said the battles had trapped civilians in their homes with dwindling supplies of food and water.

The aid group said prolonged fighting in Aden could impact efforts to tackle the humanitarian crisis gripping the rest of the Arab country.

The Aden clashes broke out on Wednesday after southern separatists accused a political party allied to Hadi of complicity in last week’s retaliatory missile attack by Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement on a military parade.

The militant infighting in Aden has exposed splits in the Saudi-led coalition.

UAE calls for end to escalation in Yemen

Meanwhile, the Emirati minister of foreign affairs, whose country has been part of a Saudi-led coalition pounding Yemen, called for an end to the escalation in Aden.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Saturday expressed deep concern over the continuation of armed confrontations in Aden, urging calm, de-escalation and maintaining the security and safety of Yemeni citizens.

He stressed the need for a responsible and serious dialogue to end the differences.

Both the UAE-sponsored separatists and the Saudi-backed pro-Hadi militants serve the Riyadh-led coalition, and have been engaged, since 2015, in a bloody military campaign against Yemen aimed at reinstating Hadi and crushing the Ansarullah movement.

The former president resigned in 2014 and later fled to the Saudi capital.

Ties between the two sides have soured over a number of issues, including what the Yemenis view as Abu Dhabi’s intention to occupy Yemen’s strategic Socotra Island and gain dominance over the major waterways in the region.

Last month, the UAE announced a surprise plan to withdraw part of its troops from Yemen, largely because Abu Dhabi believes the war appears to have become “unwinnable,” according to US reports.

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