JEDDAH: The Yemeni president on Thursday accused the UAE of attacking government forces in southern Yemen.
Abu Dhabi said it carried out limited strikes on Wednesday and Thursday, but only in self-defense, after armed militias targeted coalition forces at Aden airport.
“Coalition forces in Aden airport came under attack by terrorist groups, and that two coalition soldiers were injured, which made UAE forces retaliate in self-defense,” the UAE Foreign Ministry said.
The incident took place amid fighting between Yemeni government troops and southern separatists who attempted to seize Aden, the temporary capital, earlier this month.
President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi said late Thursday that the “surprise attack” by UAE jets hit the Yemeni army and civilians. He said his troops were forced to withdraw to “avert the destruction of Aden.”
He vowed that government troops would retake Aden from forces loyal to the Southern Transitional Council (STC).
Aden has served as the capital since the Iran-backed Houthi militia drove his government from Sanaa in 2014. Both the STC and the government had been united with the Arab coalition, that includes Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in fighting the Houthis. But tensions between the STC and Hadi flared up earlier this month, sparking days of fighting for control in Aden.
Earlier, the UN Security Council said it was strongly supporting a negotiated political solution in Yemen that addresses legitimate concerns of all Yemenis, including those in the south, which recently saw a violent attempt to take over government institutions.
A statement approved Thursday by all 15 council members expressed deep concern about escalating violence and recent loss of life across Yemen, including in the key southern port city of Aden and the capital Sanaa and other northern cities controlled by the Houthis.
The council condemned "in the strongest terms" escalating Houthi attacks on civilian infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and called on the militia "to cease such attacks immediately."
The council expressed particular concern at developments in the south, calling on all involved "to show restraint and to preserve Yemen's territorial integrity."
The aid charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said it took in 51 wounded casualties during heavy fighting in the Yemeni city of Aden on Wednesday, 10 of them already dead when they reached its hospital.
“It’s total chaos here. There was fighting in the city all day yesterday. Things appear to have calmed down a bit this morning, but we expect the hostilities to resume at any point," MSF programme manager Caroline Seguin said in the charity's statement, issued on Thursday.