ADEN: Yemeni supporters of the southern separatist movement pose for a picture in Khor Maksar in this southern port city yesterday. â€“ AFP
southern separatists took control of all government military camps in Aden
yesterday, officials said, after four days of clashes between nominal allies
who have turned on each other, complicating UN efforts to end the four-year
war. The separatists also surrounded the all-but empty presidential palace of
the internationally recognized government that is temporarily based in the port
city, a government official and another local official told Reuters.
At least eight
civilians were killed on Friday in fighting between the separatists and
government forces, according to medical sources. Fighting resumed early
yesterday but has since abated, residents said. The combatants are both part of
the Saudi-led pro-government coalition that has been battling the Iran-aligned
armed Houthi movement in Yemen since March 2015, indicating a rift within the
alliance. The war has killed tens of thousands and pushed the poorest Arabian
Peninsula nation to the brink of famine.
â€œIt is all
over, the (Southern Transitional Council) forces are in control of all the
military camps,â€ an official in President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadiâ€™s
government told Reuters. He said the two sides had agreed the separatist forces
would not try to seize the palace, located in the predominantly residential
Crater district, while government forces would refrain from attacking them. The
separatists also took over the house of Interior Minister Ahmed Al-Mayssari
after he was evacuated from his residence with the help of coalition forces,
government officials said. Hadi is based in the Saudi capital Riyadh.
There was no
immediate comment from the Western-backed coalition led by Saudi Arabia that
intervened in Yemen after the Houthis ousted Hadiâ€™s government from power in
the capital Sanaa in late 2014. Alliance member the United Arab Emirates, which
has armed and trained thousands of southern separatist fighters, earlier called
for calm and for the two sides to focus on opposing the Houthis. Foreign
Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed called on UN special envoy Martin Griffiths,
who is trying to de-escalate tensions across Yemen, â€œto deploy efforts and
exert pressureâ€ to that purpose.
Refugee Council said the battles had trapped civilians in their homes with
dwindling supplies of food and water. The aid group said prolonged fighting in
Aden, a gateway for commercial and aid supplies, could impact efforts to tackle
the humanitarian crisis gripping the rest of the country. UN Secretary-General
Antonio Guterres has urged the parties to end hostilities and engage in
The clashes began
on Wednesday after the separatists accused an Islamist party allied to Hadi of
complicity in a missile attack on a military parade in Aden, one of three
separate attacks that targeted southern forces. The Houthis claimed
responsibility for the parade attack that killed a senior southern commander.
Despite their alliance, the separatists and Hadiâ€™s government have rival
agendas for Yemenâ€™s future.