Yemen president orders his forces to cease fire in Aden

Fighters from Yemen's southern separatist movement gather in a street of Aden on Sunday during clashes with government forces. (AFP)
Updated 28 January 2018
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Yemen president orders his forces to cease fire in Aden

ADEN: Yemen President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi on Sunday ordered his forces to cease fire immediately in interim capital Aden after fierce clashes with southern separatists.
The call came in a communique issued by Prime Minister Ahmed bin Dagher to the commanders of government forces in the southern port city.
“Based on instructions from President Hadi, supreme commander of the Yemeni armed forces, and after talks with the Arab coalition... you must order all military units to cease fire immediately,” said the communique seen by AFP.
It ordered government forces “to return to base,” and said all positions taken on Sunday should be vacated by all sides unconditionally.
Yemen’s Prime Minister Ahmed bin Dagher on Sunday accused southern separatists of attempting a coup in the interim capital of Aden after they took over the government headquarters.
The premier called on the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iranian-backed Houthis to intervene, hours after fierce clashes erupted between military units loyal to the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and separatist security forces.
At least 15 people were killed in fierce fighting on Sunday in Yemen’s interim capital of Aden, hospital sources said, as separatists took over the government headquarters.
Three civilians were among those killed, medical sources in four hospitals in Aden said.
“A coup is ongoing here in Aden against legitimacy and the country’s unity,” Dagher said in a statement.
Security sources told AFP that pro-separatist had taken over the government headquarters in Aden after clashes.
The clashes erupted after separatist protesters were prevented from entering Aden where supporters of secessionists were gathering for a rally to demand the ouster of Dagher’s government.
Aden serves as a temporary base for Hadi’s government as Iranian-backed rebels took over the capital Sanaa more than three years ago.
A Saudi-led military coalition intervened in 2015 to back Hadi’s government in its war against the Houthis. Military and security units from both sides were deployed in the city amid high tension.
Universities, schools and the only international airport in the city had all been closed, according to witnesses.
Dagher said that events in Aden were headed toward “total military confrontation” and urged members of the coalition to take action.
He also warned that separating south Yemen from the rest of the country would benefit Iran and the Houthis.
“Iran is trying to consolidate its presence in Yemen through the Houthis and by splitting Yemen, we are giving them one-third of the land and three-quarters of the population,” Dagher said.
Sunday’s rally was called by the South Transition Council, an autonomous body aimed at overseeing self-governance among southern provinces.
The 26-member council, which is not recognized by Hadi’s government, includes the governors of five southern provinces and two Cabinet ministers.
Former Aden Gov. Aidarous Al-Zoubeidi formed the council in May after Hadi fired him the previous month.
Ahead of the planned protest, the coalition called for calm and restraint from “all Yemeni political and social” parties.
It urged all sides to “adhere to the language of calm dialogue,” to liberate all of Yemen from the control of the Iranian-backed Houthi terrorists, according to a statement cited late Saturday by Saudi state news agency SPA. The Yemeni government has welcomed the statement.
Yemen’s government spokesman Rajih Badi said in a statement that the position of the coalition in its support for the legitimate government was what it had stressed from the outset — which was the importance of maintaining the focus of the battle in confronting the Iranian-backed efforts to divide the country from within.
He said there was a need to keep faith in the goals and objectives of the legitimate government, the Arab coalition and UN in achieving and maintaining stability in the country.
The spokesman explained that the adoption of any action against the legitimate government only led to serve the enemies of Yemen, Gulf Arab countries, and the Arab region.


Four Turkish soldiers killed in clashes with PKK, says ministry

Military vehicles pass as Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters man a checkpoint on a highway connecting the Iraqi-Syrian border town of Rabia and the town of Snuny north of Mount Sinjar December 20, 2014. (REUTERS)
Updated 24 min 27 sec ago
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Four Turkish soldiers killed in clashes with PKK, says ministry

  • Macron on Friday made clear of the importance to Paris of “the security of Turkey and a de-escalation along the Syrian-Turkish border,” the French presidency said

ISTANBUL, PARIS: Four Turkish soldiers were killed on Friday in clashes with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) near the border with Iraq, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday.
Demiroren News Agency said a military base had been attacked in the mountainous Cukurca district of Turkey’s southeastern province of Hakkari, prompting the Turkish military to respond with a “large-scale” military operation.
“As part of ongoing operations on the Turkey-Iraq border, two soldiers were killed in clashes with terrorists despite all efforts to save them,” the ministry said, adding a total of four soldiers were killed and six wounded.
“Terrorists are under intense fire with the air operation and fire support vehicles in the region,” it said.
The PKK, which has waged an insurgency for autonomy in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast since 1984, is deemed a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU.
A day earlier, French President Emmanuel Macron hosted representatives of the Kurdish-led force that defeated Daesh extremists in Syria, drawing a sharp rebuke from Turkey’s Foreign Ministry.
Macron assured the Kurdish envoys of French support in their fight against the remaining militants, but Ankara accused the French leader of “seeking to confer artificial legitimacy on a faction of terrorist groups.”
“We condemn the reception by French President Emmanuel Macron of a delegation of so-called ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF),” Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said in the statement.
In late March the US-backed SDF flushed out Daesh militants from their last bastion in Syria but the Kurdish-led force still warns that the militants remain a threat in places.
The SDF is an umbrella Kurdish-Arab force dominated by Kurds from the People’s Protection Units (YPG). It is regarded with huge distrust by neighboring Turkey which sees the YPG as a terror group.
Macron assured the visiting SDF representatives, who were not named, of the “active support of France in the fight against Daesh which continues to be a menace for collective security,” the presidency said in a statement.
Particularly important is the support in the “handling of terrorist fighters held as prisoners along with their families.”
European capitals are keeping a careful eye on the Daesh prisoners held by the SDF after the defeat of the militants, given many are dual nationals.
Macron also vowed that financial support would be allocated to “respond to the humanitarian needs and the socio-economic stabilization of civilian populations in Syria.”
The SDF were the West’s key ally in defeating Daesh and waged the bulk of the fighting on the ground.
But they fear being abandoned by their patrons now Daesh has been beaten, after US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of American forces from Syria.
France’s past contacts with the SDF’s Syrian Kurds had already angered Turkey which regards the YPG as the Syrian branch of the PKK, which has waged a 35-year insurrection against the Turkish state.
Macron on Friday made clear of the importance to Paris of “the security of Turkey and a de-escalation along the Syrian-Turkish border,” the French presidency said.
But Aksoy said Macron’s move did not sit well with the French-Turkish alliance, and warned that “Turkey will not hesitate to take measures deemed necessary to protect its national security.”