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Yemen army recruits 4,800 southern fighters: Official

AFP , Friday 28 Aug 2015
A soldier stands by an anti-aircraft machine gun loaded on a military truck in Yemen's northwestern city of Saada March 31, 2015. (Reuters)

The Yemeni army has recruited 4,800 southern fighters following a presidential decision to integrate loyalist militiamen who helped push Iran-backed rebels out of second city Aden, a military official has said.

"This brigade has 4,800 fighters, including soldiers and officers. Most of the recruits are former fighters of the Popular Resistance" pro-government militia, Colonel Fadel Mohammed Hassan told AFP at a military base in Aden.

The majority of the recruits come from Aden province, where forces loyal to exiled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi pushed back Iran-backed rebels last month, aided by Saudi-led coalition air power.

The Salman Decisiveness Brigade is named after the Saudi monarch whose country has led an Arab military campaign since late March in support of Hadi.

An AFP correspondent at a military base in Aden this week saw new recruits carrying out training drills, dust rising above them as they exercised.

A sign on the base's front gate carried a poster of Gulf leaders, and a sign reading: "registration is closed."

"All members of the resistance have been taken in without any exemptions" following orders from Hadi, said Hassan.

Shiite Huthi rebels and troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh advanced in March on Aden, where Hadi took refuge after escaping house arrest in Sanaa.

Hadi later fled to Riyadh, which mounted along with Arab allies a fierce air campaign against the rebels.

Bolstered by heavy weaponry and Gulf troops as well as Yemeni fighters trained in Saudi Arabia, loyalists have retaken Aden and four other southern provinces and are currently fighting for control of Yemen's third city Taez.

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