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Sudan refuses to confirm reports of plans to deploy troops to Yemen

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September 8, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government expressed readiness to send troops to Yemen but refused to confirm reports about an imminent deployment to participate in ground operations to retake the capital city of Sanaa.

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Pro-government forces loyal to Yemen’s exiled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi drive armored vehicles in Marib province on September 8, 2015 (AFP Photo/Abdullah Hassan)

Sudan made the largely symbolic move last March of joining the Saudi-led military coalition against Houthi rebels who are accused by Riyadh of being a proxy to Iran in the region.

At the time it was reported that four Sudanese fighter jets were dispatched to Saudi Arabia during the airstrikes launched by the alliance in Yemen which is made up mainly of Arab Gulf states. However it is not clear if Sudanese planes actually took part in the aerial bombardment.

A statement issued by the Sudanese defense ministry last March stated that an infantry unit is on its way to the “operations zone” in the earliest indication of how far Khartoum is prepared to go in supporting Saudi Arabia.

After months of military stalemate, the alliance and forces loyal to Yemeni president Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi recently started making gains on the battlefield by retaking the strategic city of Aden and four other southern provinces.

According to Reuters, the alliance has increased air strikes on Sanaa and other parts of the country since Friday, when a Houthi missile attack killed at least 60 Saudi, Bahraini and United Arab Emirates (UAE) soldiers at a military camp east of Sanaa.

They were part of a force preparing to assault the capital, which the Iranian-allied Houthis seized last September.

Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera TV reported that the number of forces deployed by the alliance had risen to 10,000.

Egyptian officials told Reuters that an unspecified number of Egyptian troops would arrive in Yemen on Tuesday and Saudi-owned Arabiya newspaper quoted sources as saying that 6,000 Sudanese troops would soon join the fight inside Yemen.

The Sudanese foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandour said that the ground offensive is being spearheaded by Yemenis and denied that Hadi’s government requested assistance of other countries.

Ghandour stressed that the “liberation of Yemen” is a political obligation for Sudan as much as it is for the Arab League. He said that president Omer Hassan al-Bashir is coordinating closely with Saudi Arabian King Salman Bin Abdelaziz and other Gulf states on this issue.

Earlier today Ghandour’s spokesperson Ali al-Sadiq told reporters that sending troops requires coordination of the alliance and that Khartoum would not hesitate to dispatch them if requested.

The Yemeni president paid a two-day visit to Khartoum late last month for talks with Bashir that focused on provision of humanitarian assistance.

(ST)

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