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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

UAE deploys to Yemen Island to protect residents

UN special envoy still waiting to travel to rebel-held Sanaa

Houthi militiamen surround senior Houthi leader Mohammed Ali al-Houthi (C) in Sanaa, Yemen, 04 May 2018. EPA
Houthi militiamen surround senior Houthi leader Mohammed Ali al-Houthi (C) in Sanaa, Yemen, 04 May 2018. EPA

The UAE has deployed soldiers to Socotra Island in Yemen as part of a campaign to support its residents, according to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Anwar Gargash said on Twitter on Friday that the UAE has historic and family ties to the island in the Arabian Gulf. "We will support [Socotra's residents], in stability, health care, education, and living [conditions]," he said.

The island has been largely neglected by Yemeni authorities since the start of the war against the Houthi rebels who seized the capital Sanaa in 2014.

The UAE has since been offering support to the island's residents, including offering them trips to the UAE to receive medical treatment. It has been buying land in order to build a factory, prison and other facilities.

The Saudi-led coalition has been in Yemen since 2015 as part of UN-backed efforts to restore the internationally recognised government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

With support from the coalition, the Yemeni army continued advancing against the main stronghold of the rebel Houthi movement in Sada over the weekend.

Elite counter-terrorism forces advanced against Houthi positions in the north-west of Yemen, where "the Houthi militia suffered a big collapse in its ranks," director of the Yemeni army's information centre colonel Yehya Al Hatimi told The National.

Yemeni forces are now 40 kilometres from the centre of Sada province, which lies 200 kilometres north of the rebelheld capital Sanaa. Government forces are besieging the rebel stronghold from five directions, Col Al Hatimi said.

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In the south, the Yemeni army continues to advance along the western coast with the help of air support from the Arab coalition. Troops from the Al Amalikah brigades retook Al Bareh intersection three kilometres east of Khaled bin Al Waleed military base on Friday, according to Colonel Abdulbaset Al Baher, a spokesperson for the Yemeni army on the Taez front. Al Bareh is a strategic intersection which links Taez province with the port city of Al Hudaydah and other inland towns, Col Al Baher told The National.

The advance was backed by air strikes from UAE air force Apache jets, he said.

Meanwhile, the Houthi authority in control of Sanaa is yet to receive UN special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths who is supposed to visit in the coming week. Al Ayyam, a daily newspaper published in Aden, reported that Griffiths has been waiting in Muscat, Oman for more than two days because the Houthi authority say they are still arranging their affairs after the death of Saleh Al Sammad, the Houthi Supreme Political Council leader who was killed in a Saudi air strike at the end of April.