Forces loyal to ex-Yemeni president withdraw from Aden amid rift with UAE
Ex-Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi says his forces have withdrawn from the port city of Aden as a rift in the Saudi-led coalition waging a war on the impoverished Arab country continues to widen.
My forces withdrew "to the vicinity of Aden governorate in order to spare Aden" and prevent its "destruction", Al-Jazeera cited him as saying on Thursday.
This comes after Emirates warplanes earlier in the day pounded the positions of pro-Hadi forces in support of southern separatists.
According to reports, more than 300 pro-Hadi troops were killed and wounded by the UAE airstrikes on Aden and nearby Abyan province.
"They (UAE-backed separatists) 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," Hadi said.
He further called on Riyadh "to intervene and stop this blatant UAE interference”.
However, the UAE's foreign ministry said that the air raids had targeted "armed groups led by members of terrorist organizations".
The situation in south Yemen is constantly shifting under frequent territorial exchanges between the two warring sides.
On Wednesday, the ex-government said in a statement that its forces had wrest control of Aden back from militia from the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) group who seized it on August 10 after four days of fierce clashes.
But on Thursday, the STC said its forces had seized back the control of the city, after bringing in reinforcements and bolstering their positions.
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 war on Yemen aimed at reinstating Hadi and crushing the popular 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.