Iran Press TV

Senior pro-Hadi commander defects to Yemeni army: Official

Iran Press TV

Sat Aug 24, 2019 10:17AM

A Yemeni official says a senior commander loyal to Saudi-backed former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi has defected to the army and allied fighters from the Popular Committees.

In a post on his Facebook page on Friday, Mohammed Nasser al-Bukhaiti, a member of the political bureau of the Houthi Ansarullah movement, said Lieutenant Colonel Maqbool Ali Ghanem Qahtan, the commander of the artillery in the 156th Brigade in Jawf Province, had joined the Yemeni armed forces.

All those under Qahtan's command have also decided to defect to the army and hand over their equipment to the Yemeni fighters, he added.

Recently, Yemen's armed forces spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Sare'e announced that more than 2,000 mercenaries had left the ranks of the Saudi-led coalition, which have been engaged, since 2015, in a bloody war on Yemen aimed at reinstating Hadi.

The Western-backed military aggression, coupled with a naval blockade, has killed tens of thousands of Yemenis, destroyed the country's infrastructure, and led to a massive humanitarian crisis.

In another development on Friday, the Qatar-owned Al Jazeera TV network reported that pro-Hadi militants took control of the headquarters of the UAE-sponsored Southern Transitional Council in Ataq district of southern Shabwah Province.

Pro-Hadi sources said that the UAE-backed separatists at the building had surrendered themselves.

In recent weeks, southern Yemen has witnessed clashes between UAE-backed southern separatists and Saudi-led militants loyal to Hadi, exposing split between the once-allied groups. Both camps serve the Riyadh-led coalition.

The clashes erupted in the port city of Aden weeks after the UAE announced a surprise plan to withdraw part of its troops from Yemen in a major blow to its coalition allies.

'Fresh retaliatory attack'

Also on Saturday, Yemen's armed forces spokesman Sare'e said the Yemeni forces launched drone strikes on King Khalid air base in Saudi Arabia's southwestern Asir Province in retaliation for the kingdom's military aggression.

He said that the Yemenis used a number of Qasef-K2 drones in their operation.

Yemeni drones successfully hit their targets, among them fighter jet hangers and runways at King Khalid air base, Sare'e noted.

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