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Wajdi al-Salemi & al-Araby al-Jadeed

Saleh begs Russians for missiles

Russian security guard stands near a 'humanitarian aid' plane in Sanaa, Yemen, 5 November, 2015[AFP]

Date of publication: 2 December, 2015

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Deposed Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh has asked the Russians for anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles to fight pro-government forces, according to a senior Yemeni political figure.
A senior Yemeni political source told al-Araby al-Jadeed that deposed president Ali Abdullah Saleh has asked the Russians to provide dissident Yemeni army factions loyal to him with anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles.

According to the same source, Saleh asked the acting Russian ambassador and the military attache at the Russian embassy in Yemen during a meeting in Sanaa a few days ago to provide his forces with anti-aircraft thermal guided missiles and anti-ship surface-to-surface missiles.

Saleh intends to use these missiles to target Saudi-led Arab coalition warships that are in Yemen's territorial waters, the source who preferred not to be named added.

The source said that the Russian plane (Ilyushin) that landed in Yemen's capital Sanaa early in November was carrying a shipment of arms and was not searched because it was said to have been carrying "humanitarian aid."

The Russian weapons shipments to forces loyal to former president Saleh and his Houthi allies are offloaded during the night at Sanaa International Airport and are received by Saleh's nephew, Haytham Mohammad Saleh al-Ahmar, the source added.

Haytham al-Ahmar would then transport the shipments to the al-Arqoub military camp in Khawlan, east of the capital, using big trucks belonging to the Sanaa Cleaning and Improving Fund, according to the same source.

Some of these weapons are also moved to the ad-Durayhami military camp in Hodeidah, western Yemen, and other military equipment to areas close to the southern border of Saudi Arabia, he added.

Forces loyal to Saleh and Iran-backed Houthi rebels have been battling pro-government forces for months.

The Saudi-backed pro-government forces launched operations in July to retake several provinces from the rebels.

Since late March, the Saudi-led coalition has been bombing Houthi rebels and forces allied to Saleh, in a bid to reinstall the government of internationally recognised President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

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