Boiling tensions: Yemen's pro-coalition forces fight for Aden Airport

Boiling tensions: Yemen's pro-coalition forces fight for Aden Airport
President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's forces clashed with UAE-backed factions on Sunday, in bloody fighting that revealed deepening differences within Yemen's pro-coalition ranks.
2 min read
13 February, 2017
Aden's international airport has opened sporadically throughout the year [AFP]
Inter-factional clashes erupted around Aden’s international airport on Sunday, prompting Saudi-led coalition Apache helicopters to fire a missile at a military vehicle, Yemeni security officials said, without confirming the number of casualties.

The attack marks the first time the Arab coalition intervenes militarily in power struggles between the forces from the presidential guards – led by President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi’s son – and a UAE-backed rival faction group.

“The fighting around Aden airport was not spur of the moment. There has been sporadic intra-factions since Aden liberation, it just escalated today,” local journalist Saleh al-Batati told The New Arab.

According to Reuters, three Yemeni soldiers were wounded in the clashes, however other outlets reported three deaths, without specifying identities.

Local sources confirmed the fighting erupted after the UAE-backed militia, which has controlled the airport since 2015, refused to relinquish control. However reports suggest the bloody clashes ended when President Hadi ordered the withdrawal of his forces from the airport and surrounding areas.

“The fighting was between factions loyal to Hadi and those loyal to UAE over taking control of Aden airport,” al-Batati added as he questioned the sustainability of the ceasefire agreement.

Since aiding local fighters in the battle to push out Houthi rebels in Aden during the summer of 2015, the United Arab Emirates has been the leading Gulf Arab force involved in military operations in the southern city.

In September 2014, Houthi rebels overran the capital city before eyeing up the southern coastal city of Aden. The crisis took a major turn for the worse with the military intervention of the Saudi-led alliance in March 2015.

The United Nations estimates more than 10,000 people, half of which civilians, have been killed in more than two years of conflict in Yemen.