By AHMED AL-HAJ | AP
SANAA: Hundreds of Islamic militants cemented control over a town in southern Yemen, even seizing army tanks, military officials said, while breakaway army units encouraged other military forces to switch their loyalties and join the uprising.
The growing number of defections in the military posed the most serious threat yet to President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s three-decade grip on his country.
On Sunday, a leader of the breakaway forces, Maj. Gen. Abdullah Ali Elewa, appealed to other units to join.
“Stand side by side with the courageous armed forces, Republican Guards and security officers who endorsed the peaceful popular youthful revolution and announced their support to stand up to the tyrants and corrupt, and unjust,” he said.
Elewa, a former defense minister, was one of nine military officers who signed the statement, named “Statement Number One” in the style of a military regime, though the officers are not in power. The group included leaders of four of Yemen’s five military divisions.
Saleh labeled them “traitors” and “war mongers.” “We understand the demands of the youth revolution, but we ask them first to get rid of those corrupt, agent and traitor elements who defected from the military,” Saleh said in a statement. read more