UAE confirms Aden air strikes on 'terrorist militias'
DUBAI - The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has confirmed launching airstrikes on Yemen's interim capital Aden targeting "terrorist militias" denying claims by the government there the raids hit its troops.
A foreign ministry statement late Thursday said "precise and direct air strikes" on Wednesday and Thursday hit the terrorist militias.
The Abu Dhabi statement added that the militias had planned to target a Saudi-led military coalition, of which the UAE is a key member, backing the Yemen government against Iran-aligned Houthi rebels.
The UAE said it acted in "self-defence" after attacks by "armed groups affiliated with terrorist organisations".
"The military operation against the terrorist militias was based on confirmed field intelligence that the militias prepared to target the coalition forces -- a development which required a preemptive operation to avert any military threat," it said.
"The strikes against the Arab Coalition were launched by armed groups affiliated with terrorist organisations. These armed groups attacked the Arab Coalition at Aden Airport, causing two injuries to the coalition forces," it added.
"Accordingly, the Coalition responded as per their right of self-defence to protect the security of their forces," said the statement which was carried by the Emirates' official WAM news agency.
On Thursday Yemen's government accused the UAE of launching air strikes in Aden in support of southern Yemeni separatists who say they have regained control of Aden. UAE military sources denied the accusation saying only terrorists militias coming from the North were targeted.
The foreign ministry said "terrorist cells started to accelerate their activity across Yemeni territories" over the past week, citing reports by the UAE's intelligence department.
Such activity, it said, "poses (a) menacing threat to the strides made by the Arab coalition to uproot the scourge of terrorism in Yemen (and) also threatens the efforts made by the coalition to combat the Houthi militia".
The statement came hours after the Southern Transitional Council (STC) troops regained control of Aden on Thursday, forcing government troops who had entered the city a day early to withdraw, officials on both sides said.