SANAA, Yemen: Yemeni separatists backed by the United Arab Emirates wrested control of two military camps from forces loyal to the internationally backed government in the port city of Aden after heavy nightly clashes, Yemeni security officials said Saturday.
The death toll in four days of fighting in the southern city climbed to more than 70 people, including civilians, the officials said.
The fighting erupted Wednesday when forces loyal to the so-called Southern Transitional Council attempted to break into the presidential palace in Aden after a call from ex-Cabinet minister Hani Bin Braik, who serves as deputy head of the STC, to “topple” the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
Aden is the seat of power for Hadi, who has been staying in Saudi Arabia since Iran-backed rebels, known as Houthis, took over the capital Sanaa in 2014, ushering the civil war. A Saudi-led coalition entered the war in March 2015 on behalf of Hadi’s government.
The stalemated war has claimed tens of thousands of lives, thrust millions to the brink of famine and spawned the world’s most devastating humanitarian crisis.
The UAE is a key member of the coalition. But its relations with Hadi have been tense amid allegations the Emiratis have offered patronage to southern Yemeni politicians campaigning for secession as well as what the president perceives as UAE violations of his country’s sovereignty.
Also on Saturday, UAE’s official WAM news agency reported that the country’s foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, called for an end to the military escalation in Aden.
Government officials said at least 45 people, both combatants and civilians, died in clashes at the Fourth Brigade camp. Another five civilians were killed in the surrounding Dar Saad neighborhood, according to health officials.
The officials said the separatists also captured a military camp in the central Khormaksar neighborhood.
That has raised the death toll to 70 people killed along with dozens wounded in the fighting in Aden this week.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief media.
The fighting has put the city lockdown, and humanitarian organizations such as the International Rescue Committee have suspended their operations in Aden.
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