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News > Yemen

14 Dead in Sixth Day of Fighting in South Yemen

  • STC tank fires on frontlines of clashes with pro-government forces for control of Zinjibar in southern Yemen on May 16

    STC tank fires on frontlines of clashes with pro-government forces for control of Zinjibar in southern Yemen on May 16 | Photo: AFP

Published 16 May 2020
Opinion

"Fourteen fighters, including ten pro-government soldiers, were killed on Saturday," a government military official told AFP on condition of anonymity. 

Fourteen combatants died in Yemen Saturday, as fighting between pro-government troops and separatist forces of the Southern Transitional Council (STC) entered a sixth day in the southern province of Abyan, according to sources on both sides.

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"Fourteen fighters, including ten pro-government soldiers, were killed on Saturday," a government military official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The toll was confirmed by a separatist military source, who also claimed the capture of "40 pro-government soldiers and the seizure of military equipment."

"They (pro-government soldiers) were unable to advance towards Zinjibar and they will only get there over our dead bodies," a separatist commander on the front line told AFP. 

The fighting is the first major confrontation since the separatists declared self-rule in southern Yemen on April 26, accusing the government of failing to carry out its duties and of "conspiring" against their cause. 

After declaring self-rule, the STC moved to wrest control of its economy from the government, ordering all taxes and levies in Aden to be deposited in its bank accounts, Middle East Eye reported earlier this week.

The bold move to redirect revenues from the government-controlled Central Bank in Aden stoked tensions higher as fierce clashes between the STC and pro-government forces were erupting elsewhere across the south.

Meanwhile, the clashes complicate Yemen's war between the government - backed by a Saudi-led military coalition - and Iran-backed Houthi rebels who control much of the north, including the capital Sanaa.

The government and the STC had technically been allies in the long war against the Houthis.

However, everything seems to indicate that the peace efforts in the war-torn country are cooling as they contradict the report of the  U.N. envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, who reported on Thursday on a “significant progress” in negotiations toward a nationwide cease-fire.

For other part, this whole situation worsens as the COVID-19 pandemic, in weakened Yemen, also takes its course at an unknown pace alerting the entire global health community and human rights defenders.

Also, Aden and its surroundings have recently been hit by torrential rains, becoming a breeding ground for mosquitoes that carry dengue and chikungunya, which can cause fevers and respiratory symptoms similar to COVID-19.

“Aden is an example of the horrors that face Yemen,” Griffiths said, pointing also to the city’s damaged infrastructure, serious power outages and long-deteriorating public services “now at a breaking point.”

The conflict in Yemen has its roots in the Arab Spring of 2011, when an uprising forced the authoritarian president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to step down. Since then, the country has faced a number of challenges, including clashes between the Houthis and the STC, corruption, food insecurity and intromension by countries like the United States.

The war has already killed more than 100,000 and displaced millions.

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