AL-MUKALLA: Fighting between government forces and separatists in Yemen’s southern province of Abyan largely subsided on Wednesday as the Saudi-led coalition deployed military officers to monitor a truce, local army officers and residents said.
Yemen’s internationally recognized government and the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) on Monday agreed to stop hostilities in Abyan and begin talks in Saudi Arabia to end more than two years of tension.
On Wednesday afternoon, the truce came into force as Saudi officers visited the frontlines and met with government and separatist military commanders.
“The Saudi military committee was divided into two groups. Seven officers met us and told us they came to monitor the truce. Another group of officers met the council’s forces,” a Yemeni government officer told Arab News.
Images posted on social media showed separatist military commanders posing with the Saudi monitors as their leaders expressed their willingness to comply with the committee.
Government officers in Abyan say roads will be reopened to allow stranded travelers to reach their destinations.
Dozens of fighters have been killed in fierce fighting over the last several days as both sides claimed territorial gains.
Tensions have escalated over the last several months since the separatists declared self-rule in Aden and the other southern provinces.
This prompted Yemen’s government in May to launch a military offensive in Abyan aimed at ousting the separatists from Aden.
The government and STC leaders are due to engage in talks in Saudi Arabia to discuss implementing the Riyadh Agreement and other thorny issues.
Local health officials recently told Arab News that the fighting in Abyan had disrupted the distribution of medical supplies, including coronavirus testing kits, and prevented doctors from visiting hospitals in the contested areas.
Meanwhile, fighting intensified on Wednesday in the central province of Al-Bayda, where Iran-backed Houthis attacked government forces in an attempt to recapture strategic locations.
Yemen’s Defense Ministry said army troops and allied tribesmen foiled the attack and killed dozens of Houthi fighters.
Warplanes from the Saudi-led coalition carried out 10 airstrikes, destroying Houthi military reinforcements and enabling Yemeni government forces to push back the Houthis.
The coalition’s military operations in Yemen have tilted the balance of the war in favor of the government and allied forces.
Meanwhile, Yemen reported 25 additional coronavirus cases, including four deaths. This brings the total number of confirmed cases in government-controlled areas to 992, including 261 fatalities and 356 recoveries, the national coronavirus committee said on Tuesday.