The Yemeni government accused the United Arab Emirates of sending more than 100 separatist soldiers to a remote island in the Arabian Sea this week, deepening a dispute between the allies in the Yemen war.
The UAE has been in a tense relationship with the government and has recruited thousands of fighters from a separatist southern movement that clashed with government forces.
Yemeni officials said about 100 separatist fighters dressed in civilian clothes took off on Monday from an Emirati ship on Socotra, the main island of the low-lying Yemenite archipelago of the Arabian Sea.
The island is part of Yemen and is on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites and is protected by FAO because of its distinctive plants and animals.
Two Yemeni government sources said on Wednesday that the UAE trained in Aden last week a batch of 300 troops to send to Socotra, and sent more than 100 of them to the island on Monday.
In response to reports of the movement of southern separatists to Socotra, Yemen’s interior minister last week criticized the UAE and said it had to focus on fighting the Huthis.
The UAE government and a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition have yet to respond to requests by Reuters for comment. The UAE has denied in previous statements Yemeni accusations that it seeks to control the island.