A Saudi-led coalition on Sunday launched a strike against Yemen’s southern separatists after they seized the presidential palace in second city Aden in deadly fighting that threatened to push the war-ravaged nation deeper into turmoil.
The seizure, decried by the Riyadh-backed Yemeni government as a UAE-supported coup, reflects deep divisions between secessionists and loyalist forces, both of whom have fought Shiite Huthi rebels.
“The coalition targeted an area that poses a direct threat to one of the important sites of the legitimate government,” a statement said, calling on the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC to withdraw from positions seized in Aden or face further attacks.
It did not specify the target but residents in Aden told AFP it was an air strike against separatist camps in the city.
Since the fighting flared on Thursday, around 40 people have been killed and 260 others including civilians wounded, according to the UN.
“It is heart-breaking that during Eid-al-Adha, families are mourning the death of their loved ones instead of celebrating together in peace and harmony,” said Lise Grande, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen.
Riyadh-based Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi is backed by the coalition – led by Saudi Arabia and its ally the United Arab Emirates – that is battling the Iran-aligned Huthis.
But another force in the anti-Huthi coalition – the UAE-trained Security Belt Force – has since Wednesday been battling loyalists in Aden, the temporary base of Hadi’s government.