Al-Hodeida, Mar 22, 2011- Republican forces loyal to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh laid a siege Tuesday on the military airbase in Yemen's western port of Al-Hodeida after the latter defected from the regime and joined "revolution," an army officer told Xinhua.
The action took place just one hour after Saleh's meeting with the Higher Army Council after Colonel Pilot Ahmed al-Sanhani declared support to the pro-reform protest movement, the official said on anonymity.
The republican guards also surrounded the Air Defense Brigade which is the first defense line to the airbase.
No armed clashes have taken place as the leader of the republican guards called for al-Sanhani to turn himself in, but the forces of the Airbase and Air Defense Brigade refused to respond, the official said.
He said a large backup from the 1st Armored Division, led by pro-protest Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who is a half brother of President Saleh and defected to the protesters on Monday, is on the way to break the siege.
Yemen has apparently reached a turning point after scores of government officials, diplomats, army and security officers have declared their support of pro-reform weeks-long protests since Monday.