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Violence erupts between UAE-Saudi backed forces in Aden

Heavy shelling shook residential areas in Aden on Thursday [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 August, 2019

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Violence erupted in the central Crater area, where the Central Bank stands, and nearby Khormaksar, where a number of bases are situated among dense neighbourhoods.
Clashes between Saudi-backed presidential protection forces and UAE-backed security belt escalated in Aden on Thursday, after hours of cautious calm, residents and local sources said.

Violence erupted in the central Crater area, where the Central Bank stands - and nearby Khormaksar - where a number of bases are situated among dense neighbourhoods.

Heavy shelling, including use of tanks, shook both residential areas where thousands of people were at risk of danger, The New Arab can confirm. Civilians across the temporary capital have been forced to stay home due to the clashes.

A day earlier, two members of an Emirati-backed force in Yemen were killed in clashes with pro-government fighters in the southern city of Aden on Wednesday, security officials said. 

The fighting broke out after shots were fired during a funeral for police personnel killed last week in the government-held port city.

"Two members of the Security Belt force were killed" in Wednesday's fighting, a security official said.

The official gave no details, but tensions have often run high in Aden between the UAE-backed Security Belt and Saudi-backed forces supporting the Aden-based government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

The fighting broke out close to the presidential palace in central Aden, where two attacks last Thursday against the Security Belt force and police killed 49 people and wounded 48.

One attack was carried out by a jihadi suicide bomber, while the other was claimed by the Houthi rebels.

Separatists mobilise

The latest developments came as UAE-backed southern separatists leader Hani bin Breik called on supporters to overthrow the Saudi-backed internationally-recognised Hadi government in Aden.

Bin Breik called on supporters to march toward the Maasheeq Palace in the southern coastal city, which has for years played as the temporary capital of the war-torn country.

"We announce a general mobilisation of all our southern forces to march toward the Maasheeq Palace," said Hani Ben Brek, deputy chairman of the Southern Transitional Council.

Bin Breik, one of the UAE's key allies in Yemen and reportedly a close aide of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, accused forces stationed at the presidential headquarters of attacking demonstrators loyal to the separatist movement during a funeral for victims of a recent attack.

On Tuesday, the separatist movement accused the Yemeni government and Islah of being involved in facilitating the Houthi offensive and declared a popular revolt aimed at driving the internationally-recognised legitimate government out of southern cities.

This was soon exacerbated after forces from the presidential guard shot at mourners at a funeral procession for the victims of those killed in the attack on a camp for the UAE-backed security belt forces

"The attack was launched on our defenceless people who wanted a peaceful sit-in in front of Al-Yamamah palace, but were targeted by live fire from Islah's militias," he said.

Targeting northerners

Meanwhile, the UN's human rights office on Tuesday accused southern Yemeni security forces of perpetrating discriminatory attacks against citizens from the country's north in retaliation for a series of attacks committed last week by extremists and rebels.

"We have received information from multiple sources about arbitrary arrests and detention, forced displacement, physical assaults and harassment," spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said in a statement.

The UAE-backed Security Belt forces are "reportedly carrying out and enabling retaliatory attacks against civilians" originating from northern Yemen, Shamdasani said.

The UAE is part of a Saudi-led military coalition backing the UN-recognised government against Houthi rebels in the country's conflict, however its forces in the south of the country have frequently clashed with Saudi-backed government forces.

Shamdasani said the alleged targeting of northerners is "apparent retaliation" for deadly attacks last week by extremists and the rebels.

The UN human rights office cited reports suggesting "security forces searched hotels and restaurants, stopping people, demanding their identification, and rounding up those hailing from the northern parts of Yemen".

"We are continuing to gather... details of the violations they have been subjected to, but initial reports suggest hundreds have already been displaced," said Shamdasani.

"Such arrests and forced displacements breach international human rights and humanitarian law," she added.

Yemen's Prime Minister Moeen Abdulmalik Saeed on Sunday decried "violations of citizens' rights", in a Twitter post warning of negative repercussions for Yemeni unity.

Yemen has been at war for more than four years. 

The Houthis control the capital Sanaa and most cities in northern, central and western regions, while the government maintains a makeshift capital in Aden. 

In the south, where UAE-backed secessionists claim independence, there is strong resentment of citizens from the north.

Southern Yemen was an independent state until 1990 and the north is perceived to have imposed unification by force.

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