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UAE withdraws some troops from Yemen

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced to reduce its troop presence in war-torn Yemen.

The move is part of the Emirates’ shift from a “military-first” to a “peace-first” strategy.

The Gulf state pulled out some of its forces from areas including the southern port of Aden and the western coast.

Media reports quoted an unnamed UAE official as saying: “We do have troop levels that are down for reasons that are strategic in [the Red Sea city] of Hodeidah and reasons that are tactical.”

“It is very much to do with moving from what I would call a military-first strategy to a peace-first strategy.”

A Yemeni military official confirmed UAE soldiers vacated the military base in Khokha, about 130km south of the key western port of Hodeidah.

Troops’ movements in other areas of Yemen are ‘tactical and based on our needs,’ the UAE official said.

“We are not worried about a vacuum in Yemen, because we have trained a total of 90,000 Yemeni forces,” he said. “This is one of our major successes in Yemen.”

The conflict in Yemen broke out in late 2014 when Houthi rebels seized much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa.

The war escalated in March 2015 when a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE launched a fierce air campaign against the rebels in a bid to restore the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.