En jemenitisk pojke tittar på rök som stiger upp efter flygattacker.
Foto: MOHAMMED HUWAIS/TT. Foto: MOHAMMED HUWAIS/TT.

Colombian mercenaries killed in Yemen

Hundreds of Colombian mercenaries are currently fighting in war torn Yemen. The mercenaries have been recruited by the United Arab Emirates to fight for the Saudi-led coalition of Arab nations in the Yemen civil war. Three Colombian mercenaries were reportedly killed in battle yesterday.

Retired Colombian Army General Jaime Ruiz in Bogota, Colombia, currently heads the Colombian Army interest organization, ACORE.

"Two American companies have recruited Colombian soldiers and officers for the U.A.E. Many have chosen to end their service in Colombia prematurely because of the higher salaries and better conditions offered by the U.A.E.", he told the Swedish Radio.

"The U.A.E. offers at least four times the pay, and free accommodation, health care, and education. This makes it an attractive option for Colombian military personnel", Gen. Ruiz said.

In recent years, the U.A.E. have recruited at least 2000 Colombian mercenaries to its national army. Around 500 of these are currently fighting in the war in Yemen, as part of the Saudi-led forces which are seeking to push back the Shiite Houthi rebels who have seized control over large swathes of the country. The Houthi rebels are reportedly receiving financial and military backing from Shiite Iran.

The U.A.E. have not confirmed the use of Colombian mercenaries, but sources have told Swedish Radio that three of the Colombians fell in combat yesterday.

The recruitment of Colombian military personnel as mercenaries has grown increasingly common in recent years. General Ruiz, however, does not consider the development to be problematic.

"The U.A.E. and other Arab Gulf states have small populations, but large wealth. They will most likely keep recruiting Colombian officers and soldiers, who have much experience fighting a civil war", he said.  

Translation from Swedish: David Carlqvist

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