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Saudi Arabia confirms arrival of Sudanese troops to Yemen

October 17, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – The Saudi Arabian government confirmed reports that circulated earlier today about the arrival of Sudanese troops to join the Arab coalition in support of Yemeni president Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi who is seeking to win back cities overran by Houthi rebels last year.

TV footage showing Sudanese soldiers at a port in west Aden (Sky News Arabia)

After months of military stalemate, the alliance and forces loyal to the Yemeni president started making gains on the battlefield by retaking major cities and are closing in on the capital Sana’a and the strategic town of Ta’iz.

Currently the ground forces in Yemen are consisting mainly of Saudi, Bahraini and United Arab Emirates (UAE) soldiers.

"The Sudanese force are added value to the coalition forces on the ground," Saudi Defense Minister adviser Brigadier General Ahmad Assiri told the Abu Dhabi based Sky news Arabia TV.

The TV station showed images of what appeared to be Sudanese troops in Aden harbor and quoted its correspondent there as saying that they also had armored vehicles shipped with them.

The commander of the Fourth Military Region in the Yemeni army, Major General Ahmed Saif Muharrami along with other army officers greeted the Sudanese forces upon their arrival.

The spokesman of the Yemeni army Brigadier General Samir al-Haj told Sky News Arabia that the Sudanese forces will serve the Arab Coalition in its plan to maintain security and restore legitimacy.

The Sudanese army did not comment on these reports but President Omer Hassan al-Bashir announced in late March that his country is participating in the operation coded Decisive Storm in a symbolic manner as represented by 3 Su-24 fighters and some transport planes.

He offered to send a brigade of ground troops if requested adding that many countries will not allow Arabs to create a force similar to NATO. His defense minister at the time Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein said that Sudanese troops have already moved to operation zones.

Bashir justified Sudan’s participation by saying that it is meant to repel Houthi aggression against Saudi Arabia until they agree to peace.

It is not yet known whether Sudanese forces will take part in peacekeeping or engage in combat tasks.

The UAE-based pro-government newspapers al-Khaleej and al-Bayan strongly commended the arrival of Sudanese troops in their Sunday editorials saying it enforces Arab unity and promises to put Yemen on the path to stability.

At a time when Saudi Arabia’s strongest allies including Egypt and Pakistan have declined requests by Riyadh to send ground troops to Yemen, Khartoum has recently shifted its alliances in response to growing economic pressures at home.

Late last year, Sudanese authorities ordered the closure of the Iranian Cultural Centre in the capital Khartoum and other states and asked the Iranian cultural attaché to leave the country in a move seen as a gesture of goodwill towards the Arab Gulf states.