Saudi-led coalition deploys troops to monitor truce between Yemeni allies

DUBAI (Reuters) - The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said on Wednesday it deployed troops in the province of Abyan to monitor a ceasefire between the internationally recognised government and the southern separatists.

Yemen’s Saudi-backed government and the United Arab Emirates-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC) have agreed on a ceasefire and they will begin talks in Saudi Arabia on implementing a peace deal, the coalition said earlier this week.

The government, based in the southern port of Aden, and the separatists are nominal allies in the Saudi-led coalition, which has been at war against the Iran-aligned Houthis that have controlled north Yemen since 2014.

However, the STC declared self-rule in April, and the two sides have been fighting in Aden and other southern regions, complicating U.N. efforts to forge a permanent ceasefire to the overall conflict.

As part of the deal, a coalition’s joint force will deploy to monitor the ceasefire in Abyan province where the fighting has raged over the past six months, along with the neighbouring oil-producing region of Shabwa.

Troops from the joint force arrived on Wednesday in Abyan, the Saudi-owned television channel al-Arabiya reported, adding that both sides are committed to the ceasefire.

Saudi Arabia is trying to reunite its coalition’s factions as violence escalates in the north of the country, with the Houthi group firing ballistic missiles on Riyadh for the first time since the COVID-19 unilateral truce ended last month.

Tensions escalated between the STC and the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi since last week when the separatists seized control of Socotra, a Yemeni island in the Arabian Sea, deposing its governor and driving out forces of the government.

Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Alison Williams