Anti-government protesters carry an army soldier after defecting to the opposition.
Source: Press TV
Authorities in Yemen have arrested several military officers for joining the anti-government campaign, which is calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh's ouster.
Since the beginning of anti-government protests across Yemen, a huge number of President Saleh's loyalists, tribal allies, ranking government officials and military figures have defected to the opposition.
The string of defections has dealt a heavy blow to Saleh's authority.
Yemeni General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, considered to be the country's second most powerful man, is also among those backing the protesters.
Gen. al-Ahmar, who has been close to President Saleh for long, is the commander of the 1st Armoured Division and his troops are now protecting anti-government protesters against troops loyal to the isolated Yemeni president in the capital.
On Friday, a military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the arrests followed a Tuesday demonstration at al-Anad air base in the southern Lahj Province, where dozens of soldiers and airmen joined calls for the president to step down.
The protesters are calling for an immediate end to Saleh's 32 years grip on power.
Since late January, hundreds of thousands of people have turned out for regular demonstrations in main Yemeni cities calling for corruption and unemployment to be tackled and demanding President Saleh's ouster.
According to local sources, at least 300 protesters have been killed and many others injured during clashes with riot police and forces loyal to the Yemeni president who are armed with batons, knives and sticks.