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Two UAE pilots killed in Yemen military plane crash

Two coalition-member pilots died in a plane crash in Yemen [AFP]

Date of publication: 18 October, 2017

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Two Emirati pilots were killed in Yemen after their aircraft went down due to a 'technical failure', Abu Dhabi has said.

The UAE says two of its pilots were killed when their military plane crashed due to a "technical failure" during an operation in Yemen.

A statement published by the state news agency Tuesday offered few details on their deaths.

Emirati forces are part of a Saudi-led coalition that began bombing Iranian-allied Houthi rebels in March 2015.

Although the UAE was pivotal in recapturing Aden - Yemen's second largest city - from rebels in the summer of 2015, many Yemenis perceive Emirati forces as pursuing a different agenda to seize strategic regions and ports in the country. Divisions of tasks between Arab countries in the Saudi-led anti-rebel alliance has placed Abu Dhabi in charge of operations in southern and eastern provinces.

In June, accusations emerged that the UAE has 'colonised' the Yemeni island of Socotra. Reports claimed that Yemen's government leased Socotra and nearby Abd al-Kuri island to the UAE for 99 years.

The UAE has also been extending its influence in south Yemen, reportedly backing the leaders of a recent secession attempt, amid accusations it is running torture and detention facilities in the country.

Compared to other Arab countries, the UAE has had a significant amount of experience in training and expanding its military capabilities.

The UAE was the only Arab country to send troops into Afghanistan with NATO in 2003, giving Abu Dhabi first-hand training with the world's most powerful armies on the front-lines.

The Saudi-led coalition - which intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to roll back Houthi rebel gains - has also turned its firepower on Sunni jihadis and backed forces loyal to President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

The Yemen war has killed 8,673 people and wounded 58,636 - among them many civilians, according to the UN.

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