SANAA // Yemen's air force commander and a half-brother of deposed president Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down yesterday two weeks after he was dismissed.
President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi fired General Mohammed Saleh Al Ahmer on April 6, along with 20 other officers and four governors loyal to the ousted president. All left their post except Gen Al Ahmer, who had led the air force for more than 20 years, and Tariq Mohammed Abdullah Saleh, the commander of the presidential guard and Mr Saleh's nephew. Government officials say Tariq Saleh is expected to step down soon.
Jamal Benomar, the UN's special envoy to Yemen, oversaw the handover to Rashid Al Janad, who was appointed as the new commander of the air force. Mr Benomar has been in Yemen for the past week to follow up on the deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council that eased the former president out in November.
The handover followed a warning from the US that the international community could take steps if Mr Hadi's orders were not implemented.
Also yesterday, government troops fought their way into the city of Zinjibar, the provincial capital of southern Abyan province that has been under the control of Al Qaeda since last year.
Military officials said the soldiers, backed by artillery and tanks, said dozens were killed and wounded on both sides. Residents said the jets launched several strikes in Abyan targeting the militants strongholds.