Thursday, October 27, 2011

Yemen's government denies recruiting Syrian militiamen

27 October 2011

Eight Syrians killed in a military plane crash in Yemen earlier this week were pilot trainers not militiamen, Yemeni military officials said Thursday dpa reported

The Syrian pilots had been on a training stint in Yemen since 1999 as part of a cooperation pact between the defence ministries in both countries, the state news agency quoted the officials as saying.

The eight Syrians and one Yemeni were killed Monday in the crash at Al-Anad base in the province of Lahij, located around 340 kilometres south-east of the capital Sana'a. Seven others on board the Russian-made plane survived the incident, according to Yemeni authorities.

Yemen's opposition has accused the government of recruiting militiamen from Syria to help quell months-long protests demanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh's ouster.

Denying the accusation, a Yemeni military source said on Thursday: ?The Yemeni Armed Forces do not need military pilots from other countries as we have already enough qualified pilots.?

Millions of Yemenis have taken to the streets since February demanding an end to Saleh's 33-year rule. At least 1,480 people were killed between February and September, according to government figures.

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