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Yemen: Saudi-backed forces retake Socotra’s capital as military reinforcements arrive

May 6, 2020 at 3:22 pm

The Yemeni island of Socotra, 24 May 2018 [Rod Waddington/Flickr]

Saudi-backed forces fighting on behalf of the UN-recognised Yemeni government yesterday retook the headquarters of the local authority on the island of Socotra, hours after it had been seized by fighters affiliated with the UAE-supported Southern Transitional Council (STC).

According to Sputnik Arabic, the STC carried out an operation to take the capital Hadibu and attacked the government compound building, raising the South Yemen flag over it. However it was removed and replaced with the official Yemen flag once Saudi-backed forces clashed with the gunmen and recovered the building.

On Saturday the island also witnessed air strikes carried out by the Saudis on several military positions belonging to the STC forces.

READ: Yemen: Government and Saudi-backed forces begin takeover of Socotra

It was also reported that new Saudi military reinforcements and supplies arrived in Socotra on Monday evening. According to the Houthi-aligned Uprising Today, there are also reports that Turkish warships landed on the island hours later, as both Riyadh and Ankara offer support to the Islah Party, which is supporting the Saudi coalition’s efforts in the country.  This came a day after the STC’s official spokesperson Salem Al-Awlaqi warned of possible Turkish intervention noting that their largest military base is located on the nearby Somali coast.

In a statement issued to the local newspaper Socotra Post, the island’s authorities referred to the STC’s attack as “an attempt to drag the province into violence and spread chaos and vandalism”. Socotra’s Governor Ramzi Mahrous also stated in a televised interview that the people of the archipelago will not allow anyone to attack them. A video was uploaded yesterday showing Mahrous speaking at the headquarters surrounded by armed guards.

Tensions between coalition partners Saudi and UAE have intensified as of late over the STC’s declaration of self-rule and frequent violent clashes on the southern mainland in particular the governorates of Aden, Abyan and Shabwa. Last August the STC seized control of the port-city of Aden intended as the future capital of a revived South Yemen state, which had until then served as the de facto capital of the Yemeni government, headed by the Riyadh-based President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. The state capital, Sanaa and much of the north is under the control of the Houthi-aligned government which is supported by the majority of Yemen’s armed forces.

READ: Yemen’s STC leader says moving forward with self-rule declaration