RIYADH - Yemen's newly appointed Vice President Khaled Bahah called on renegade army units Thursday to drop their support for Shiite rebels fighting his exiled government.
|‘Top priority is to address urgent humanitarian needs’
"I call on all troops and security forces personnel to accept the command of the legitimate government and protect the country," he told reporters in Riyadh, where he is exiled along with President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
Troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh have allied with the Shiite Huthi rebels fighting pro-Hadi forces.
A coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched an air war on March 26 against Iran-backed rebel forces in control of the Yemeni capital and locked in deadly battles with pro-Hadi forces in the main southern city of Aden.
Coalition member states have not ruled out sending ground forces to Yemen, but Bahah said he hoped that would not be needed.
"We are still hoping that there will not be a ground campaign" to avoid a higher casualty toll, he said.
The World Health Organization says at least 736 people died in the conflict up to April 12 and more than 2,700 have been wounded.
Bahah, who also serves as prime minister, appealed for emergency aid.
"The Yemeni people are suffering from a difficult humanitarian situation and a shortage in food and medicine as well as... electricity, water and fuel."
This requires "an emergency international and regional intervention to provide such needs... before the situation develops into a humanitarian catastrophe".
"The government's top priority is to address the urgent humanitarian needs," he said.
Bahah also hailed Russia for not blocking a UN Security Council resolution on Tuesday that imposed on arms embargo and sanctions on the rebels.
Iran-allied Moscow abstained from voting, allowing the other 14 members to pass the resolution.