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American troops evacuated from Yemen as civil war approaches

The advance of rebel forces has continued.

Members of a militia group loyal to Yemen's President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, known as the Popular Committees, chew qat as they sit next to their tank, guarding a major intersection in Aden.
Members of a militia group loyal to Yemen's President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, known as the Popular Committees, chew qat as they sit next to their tank, guarding a major intersection in Aden.
Image: AP Photo/Hamza Hendawi

THE UNITED STATES said it had evacuated all its staff from Yemen, whose embattled president has appealed for “urgent intervention” by the UN Security Council as attacks by Iran-backed rebels bring his country nearer to civil war.

“Due to the deteriorating security situation in Yemen, the US government has temporarily relocated its remaining personnel out of Yemen,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said in a statement.

The evacuation comes after several suicide bombings claimed by the Islamic State group killed 142 people in Sanaa on Friday, with the jihadists seeking to exploit the chaos gripping the country.

The impoverished nation is torn between a north controlled by Iran-backed Shiite Huthi rebels and a south dominated by allies of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled house arrest in Sanaa to Aden in February.

The UN Security Council is to hold an emergency meeting Sunday following Hadi’s appeal.

In his letter to the Council, Hadi denounced “the criminal acts of the Huthi militias and their allies,” saying they “not only threaten peace in Yemen but the regional and international peace and security.” Hadi wrote:

I urge for your urgent intervention in all available means to stop this aggression that is aimed at undermining the legitimate authority, the fragmentation of Yemen and its peace and stability.

Yemen has been torn by unrest since ex-strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down in early 2012 after a year-long popular uprising against him, with powerful armed groups sidelining the government since.

The country is now on the brink of civil war, with a deepening political impasse and an increasingly explicit territorial division along sectarian lines, with rising violence between the Huthi and Sunni tribes and Al-Qaeda.

Washington late on Friday pulled out troops from the Al-Anad airbase in southern Yemen amid fighting involving Al-Qaeda militants nearby which left at least 29 dead.

The US would “continue to actively monitor terrorist threats emanating from Yemen and have capabilities postured in the area to address them,” Rathke said.

© – AFP 2015

Read: Suicide bombings that killed 142 ‘just the tip of the iceberg’ ISIS warns >

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