Two UAE-backed fighters dead in Yemen clashes

Updated August 08, 2019

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Two members of an Emirati-backed force in Yemen were killed on Wednesday in clashes with pro-government fighters in the southern city of Aden, security officials said. — Reuters/File
Two members of an Emirati-backed force in Yemen were killed on Wednesday in clashes with pro-government fighters in the southern city of Aden, security officials said. — Reuters/File

ADEN: Two members of an Emirati-backed force in Yemen were killed on Wednesday in clashes with pro-government fighters in the southern city of Aden, security officials said.

They said the fighting broke out after the funerals of police personnel killed last week in the government-held port city.

“Two members of the Security Belt force were killed” in Wednesday’s fighting, a security official said.

The official gave no details, but tensions have often run high in Aden between the Security Belt and forces backing the Aden-based government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

The fighting broke out close to the presidential palace in central Aden, where two attacks last Thursday against the Security Belt force and police killed 49 people and wounded 48.

One attack was carried out by a jihadist suicide bomber, while the other was claimed by Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

The Houthis hail from northern Yemen and have been the target of a military campaign led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since 2015.

The UN human rights office this week accused the Security Belt force of “reportedly carrying out and enabling retaliatory attacks against civilians” from northern Yemen.

On Wednesday, the world body’s Yemen envoy wrote on Twitter that he was “ala­r­med by the military escalations in Aden”.

“I am also deeply concerned by the recent rhetoric encouraging violence against Yemeni institutions,” read a tweet on the official account of the office of Martin Griffiths.

The UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, called Wednesday’s incident a “despicable terrorist act” but urged calm and dialogue.

“Escalation is not an acceptable option,” he wrote on Twitter.

More than four years since the Saudi-led intervention to back up Hadi’s government against the Houthi uprising, the rebels remain in control of large parts of northern and western Yemen including the capital Sanaa.

Southern Yemen is largely controlled by loyalist forces.

Yemen’s war has left tens of thousands dead and caused what the United Nations has labelled the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2019