US Special Forces withdraw from Yemen

As the remaining 100 US Special Forces left Yemen, its President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi called on the Houthi militia to leave the capital Sanaa.

The United States is evacuating its remaining 100 special operations forces from Yemen, amid a deteriorating security situation in the country, CNN reported, citing sources in the region familiar with the matter.

CNN said the troops, who had conducted counterterrorism operations against al Qaeda and its affiliated militant groups, were the last U.S. forces stationed in Yemen.

The United States closed its embassy in Sanaa last month, after Houthi rebels took over the Yemeni capital.

On Friday, suicide bombers killed at least 137 worshippers and wounded hundreds more at two mosques in Sanaa, in coordinated attacks claimed by Islamic State.

On Saturday, Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi called on the Houthi militia to leave the capital Sanaa and for its allied militias to quit government ministries in his first televised speech since escaping house arrest last month.

Hadi urged all parties in Yemen to attend peace talks in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh, but also vowed to plant the national flag in the Houthi stronghold of Saadeh, in a comment the group is likely to interpret as a call to arms.

The Shi'ite Muslim Houthis, who are allied to Iran, seized Sanaa in September and then besieged Hadi's residence in January, leading him to offer his resignation and resulting in his house arrest by the group before he escaped to Aden last month.

Hadi and the Houthis have since then commanded rival power centers in north and south Yemen, leading to fears of a full-scale civil war, and giving Sunni Muslim jihadist groups such as al Qaeda more space to operate.

Hadi said Yemen must return to the political situation in place before the Houthis took control of Sanaa, reinstituting its constitution and implementing the results of a national dialog process and Gulf-sponsored political transition.

In his speech, he denounced the Houthis as "coup plotters" and said he wanted to confront sectarianism. Addressing Houthi accusations that he planned to back a southern secessionist movement, he said his flight to Aden had been intended to preserve Yemeni unity.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Frances Kerry

(Reporting By Mohammed Mukhashaf in Aden and Omar Fahmy in Cairo; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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