(Bloomberg) — The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen said southern separatists have begun withdrawing from some of the government-held areas they captured the day earlier after it struck their positions.
The coalition bombarded the separatists in Aden early on Sunday after the Yemeni government accused them and their backers in the United Arab Emirates of staging a coup against it, Saudi state-backed media reported. The Southern Transitional Council issued a statement on its website accepting the ceasefire demanded by Saudi Arabia and agreeing to enter a dialogue. Its website and social media accounts made no mention of a withdrawal.
The flareup in Aden marks the most significant setback for the coalition since it went to war in Yemen in 2015 to unseat Iran-backed Houthi rebels after they overran the capital Sana’a. Aden is the temporary seat of the internationally recognized government that has become a battleground between the regime, whose President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi resides in Saudi Arabia, and separatists backed by coalition-partner U.A.E.
Yemen’s Foreign Ministry accused the U.A.E. of helping the STC stage a coup in an unprecedented public rebuke of its ally. It demanded the U.A.E. withdraw its military support, according to a statement from Vice Minister Mohammed Al-Hadhrami, after STC forces said they seized the presidential palace in Aden.
The U.A.E., which is scaling back its troop presence in Yemen, did not publicly respond to the accusations. Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed on Saturday expressed “grave concern” about the developments, calling them a diversion from the war’s primary objective of fighting the Houthi rebels.
Saudi Arabia reiterated support for the “legitimate government,” Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman said Saturday in a series of tweets. “We reject any use of arms in Aden and breach of security and stability,” he said. The Saudis also invited the rebels to a meeting to resolve differences, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
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