World News

Saudi-backed government in Yemen accuses UAE of attacking its forces

Posted August 29, 2019 11:27 a.m. EDT

— Yemen's internationally-recognized government has accused the UAE of launching deadly airstrikes on its troops, as fighting around the key city of Aden raged over the past several days.

More than 40 people were killed and 70 others were injured in strikes targeting forces of the government -- which is also backed by Saudi Arabia -- on Wednesday and Thursday, a government spokesman told CNN.

Information Minister Moammar Al-Eryani accused the UAE of "deliberately attacking the Yemeni military" in a bid to "divide Yemen" and allow "militias to control Yemeni ports."

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have led a coalition to fight Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen since 2015. But the UAE said in July that it was reducing its forces in the country, and fighting broke out between their local partners on the ground earlier this month.

Now, Saudi-backed government forces are fighting UAE-backed separatists for control of the strategic port city of Aden and other governorates in southern Yemen. Aden has been the temporary seat of Yemen's internationally-recognized government since Houthi rebels took over the capital, Sanaa, in 2014.

The UAE government and the Saudi-led coalition didn't immediately respond to CNN's request for comment.

Yemen's Saudi-backed government said in a statement carried by its official news agency: "The Yemeni Foreign Ministry demands that the UAE stop all types of financial and military support to all military formations that don't operate under the state and the rule of law.

"We ask Saudi Arabia and its wise leadership of the coalition to support the legitimate government and stop this unlawful and unjustified military escalation," the ministry added.

UAE-backed separatists, led by the Southern Transitional Council (STC), took over the city of Aden and other key towns in the Abyan and Shabwah governorates in recent weeks. On Wednesday, Saudi-backed government forces claimed to have recaptured Aden airport. The STC said it regained control of the city by Thursday morning.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said it treated 51 wounded casualties and that 10 were dead on arrival during fighting in Aden on Wednesday. A statement by the group said it was the "third biggest influx of wounded people in three weeks."

"Our teams are standing by to receive more casualties," Caroline Seguin, MSF program manager for Yemen, said in the statement.