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UAE confirms air strikes in Aden targeting “terrorist militias”

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — The United Arab Emirates said on Friday it had launched air strikes in the southern Yemeni city of Aden aimed at “terrorist militias” to defend the Saudi-led coalition in the country.

Abu Dhabi carried out “specific air strikes” on Wednesday and Thursday targeting “terrorist militias,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. “Militias are targeting coalition forces, which requires a direct response to avoid any military threat.”

“Terrorist organizations have begun to increase the frequency of their attacks against coalition forces and civilians, which led to a direct threat to the security of these forces, which necessitated the targeting of terrorist militias with specific air strikes,” it said.

The statement added that the UAE “will not hesitate to protect the Arab coalition forces when necessary and reserves the right to respond and self-defense.”

On Friday, two attacks took place in the southern city of Aden, one of which killed separatist fighters after a motorcycle suicide attack, the first suicide attack in the city since the southern secessionists seized it on August 10.

The official said that the attack, which has not been adopted by any party so far, bear the hallmarks of al-Qaeda.

The commander of the city’s security belt, Wadah Omar Abdel Aziz, also escaped an explosion, wounding five of his bodyguards, the source said.

The source confirmed that the attack, which targeted Abdul Aziz, was an explosive device targeted his convoy in the Sheikh Othman area in central Aden.

The Southern Transitional Council accuses the Yemeni government of colluding with the perpetrators of the August 1 attacks that killed 49 people.

One of the attacks was claimed by Houthi rebels, while the other was attributed to jihadists.

Separatists argue that “fighting terrorism” is one of the reasons why they seized Aden.

The internationally recognized Yemeni government on Thursday accused the UAE of launching raids against its forces in Aden in support of southern separatists who regained control of the southern city.

The UAE is a key member of the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen since March 2015, supporting government forces against Houthi rebels close to Iran.

The UAE classifies the Muslim Brotherhood as a “terrorist group” and is limiting its influence in Yemen, especially in southern areas controlled by pro-Abu Dhabi separatist forces.

The separatists accuse Hadi’s government of allowing the Islamists’ growing influence and influencing their political and military decisions, especially members of the Yemeni Reform Group, which is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Vice President Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, a former general in the Yemeni army, is close to the Muslim Brotherhood.

In Aden, the head of the Southern Transitional Council, Aidroos al-Zubaidi, said at a press conference on Thursday night that his forces had arrested “terrorist elements wanted internationally.”

The southern separatists on Thursday recaptured Aden, less than 24 hours after losing control, after bringing in large reinforcements from other provinces.

Aden is the provisional capital of the internationally recognized government of Yemen since the Houthi rebels took control of Sanaa in September 2014.

– Saudi intervention

Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi said in a statement late on Thursday that southern separatist forces “attacked all state institutions and their camps in the interim capital Aden with the support, funding and planning of the United Arab Emirates.”

This is a reference to the takeover of Aden by the Southern Transitional Council on 10 August.

Hadi, who lives in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, called on the Saudi government to “intervene to stop the blatant Emirati intervention by supporting transitional militias and using aerial bombardment against the Yemeni armed forces.”

There was no Saudi comment on the renewed fighting in Aden on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia on Monday called in a joint statement with the UAE separatists and the Yemeni government to negotiate and dialogue for a truce in southern Yemen.

Southern separatists and government forces have been fighting together in a Saudi-led coalition against Houthi-affiliated rebels close to Iran, who have controlled large areas of the impoverished country since 2014, in a conflict that has put millions of people on the brink of starvation.

South Yemen was a separate state from the north until 1990.

For his part, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said in his Twitter account at dawn Friday that “the UAE statement against terrorism and the protection of coalition forces is firm, and most importantly the clear conviction that dialogue and communication between the government and the transition through the Saudi initiative is the way out of the crisis.”

“For those who have lost the compass, we recall that mobilizing efforts against the Houthi coup is the goal and the proposed Jeddah dialogue is the way.”

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