Yemeni president enlists thousands to form new brigade in south

Published August 30th, 2015 - 09:00 GMT

Yemen’s exiled President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi on Friday ordered the formation of a new brigade consisting of about 5,000 fighters mainly from the strategic city of Aden in a push to integrate southern loyalists into army ranks, a presidential adviser said.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Maj. Gen. Ja’afar Sa’ad, Hadi’s adviser, said Decisive Salman Brigade—named after the Saudi King—will be tasked with restoring stability and security to the areas under government control and preparing for the return of the exiled government.

President Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia in February after an alliance of Iran-backed Houthi militants and followers of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh entered Aden, the strategic Red Sea port city where Hadi had taken refuge after his government was toppled in late 2014.

Brig. Gen. Fadel Hassan, who led the Aden operation, will be in charge of the newly formed brigade whose recruits have already started to receive training, according to the official.

With the backing of Saudi-led coalition warplanes and troops, government loyalists, known as the Popular Resistance force, retook Aden last month and began spreading in the southern provinces of Lahj, Al-Dalea and Abyan.

Pro-Hadi tribal leaders from Ma’rib said they were in contact with tribes from outside the oil-rich province to coordinate attacks on Houthi positions, Asharq Al-Awsat has learned.

Also on Friday, fresh reinforcements and military supplies arrived in the outskirts of Ma’rib, 107 miles (173 kilometers) to the northeast of Sana’a, as the Saudi-backed fighters positioned there prepare to advance on the oil-rich province, a senior pro-Hadi commander said.

They include 400 military vehicles, the official said, and will take part in the Ma’rib operation.

“Preparations are underway and shrouded in strict secrecy,” a senior resistance commander told Asharq Al-Awsat.

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