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The New Arab

Two Emirati pilots die in Yemen jet crash

The fate of the United Arab Emirate crew is unknown [File Photo: Getty]

Date of publication: 14 March, 2016

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Two members of the UAE military died when a fighter jet crashed into a mountain following fierce clashes between militants on the ground in Yemen's southern city of Aden.
Two Emirati pilots have been killed after their warplane crashed in Yemen due to a mechanical fault.

The pair were taking part in a mission in the south of the country, Abu Dhabi has confirmed, although it is unclear if this war against al-Qaeda militants close to Aden or Houthi rebels further north.

The jet went down close to the southern city of Aden on Monday after suffering a "technical fault", Saudi state TV said.

It was first reported missing by the UAE after it crashed into a mountain in the Buraiqa region, where extremist militants have attempted to establish a stronghold.

Warplanes and Apache helicopters had been operating in the city after clashes erupted between Yemeni forces and al-Qaeda linked militants in Mansura.

Intense fighting pushed the extremist fighters out towards Buraiqa where the crash eventually took place.

"We saw Apache helicopters fire rockets and open machine gunfire at al-Qaeda militants," in Aden's Mansura district, one witness said.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which play key roles in the coalition, have suffered the alliance's heaviest losses in Yemen, with dozens of soldiers killed.

However, this is the first incident involving an Emirati fighter jet since the Saudi-led campaign began in March last year.

Yemen's mountainous terrain and rapid enemy ground fire has proven to be difficult for the coalition's inexperienced pilots who prefer to fly at higher altitudes.

But the reduced accuracy has caused dire consequences for civilians below who have been caught up in high-altitude bombing that has hit markets, homes, hospitals and factories in the past year.

Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group have taken advantage of the conflict between Houthi rebels and pro-government forces to reinforce their presence in the south.

There has been a particular focus on the government's temporary capital, Aden.

Security sources estimate that around 300 heavily armed al-Qaeda fighters are entrenched in the city's Mansura district.

More than 6,100 people have died - half of them civilians- since the coalition launched its campaign in March 2015, according to the United Nations.

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