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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Saudi military sends troops to Socotra island

Arab coalition forces will train on the Yemeni island and offer humanitarian support

The UAE is supporting humanitarian efforts on the Yemeni island of Socotra. Photo credit: Yousef bin Shakar Alzaabi
The UAE is supporting humanitarian efforts on the Yemeni island of Socotra. Photo credit: Yousef bin Shakar Alzaabi

Saudi Arabia has deployed troops to the Yemeni island of Socotra, the Arab coalition supporting Yemen's government against Iran-backed rebels announced on Sunday.

The Saudi troops will conduct joint training exercises on the island alongside UAE and Yemeni forces, coalition spokesman Turki Al Malki said.

The move was undertaken in co-ordination with the Yemeni government, the coalition said.

The UAE sent its forces to Socotra earlier this month, triggering criticism from the Yemeni government that it had not been consulted beforehand.

The Foreign Ministry responded by reiterating the UAE's support for the internationally recognised government of President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi and said it was seeking "to establish peace and stability and to support developmental projects for the island's residents".

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UAE’s role in Yemen’s Socotra ‘essential’ for development, says Sheikh Hamdan

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Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said the UAE had historic and family ties to the island.

"We will support [Socotra's residents], in stability, health care, education, and living [conditions]," he tweeted on Friday.

Socotra, a Unesco world heritage site, lies 350 kilometres off Yemen's southern coast, and has been largely neglected by Yemeni authorities since the start of the war against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who seized the capital Sanaa in 2014.

Residents of the island have held rallies to show their support for the Emirati presence.

On Sunday, Yemen's National Resistance Forces, backed by the UAE, liberated the mainland port of Hima, Wam reported. The operation to take the port, north of Al Khawkha in Hodeidah province, is part of a large-scale military offensive to dismantle Houthi militias and to liberate Yemeni cities.