Yemen troops start withdrawing from Abyan province

The deal aims to end a power struggle between the government and the Southern Transitional Council, which seized control of the interim Yemeni capital Aden last August.
Thursday 16/01/2020
A reinforcement convoy of Yemen's Security Belt Force, dominated by members of the Southern Transitional Council, heads from the southern city of Aden to Abyan province, November 26. (AFP)
A reinforcement convoy of Yemen's Security Belt Force, dominated by members of the Southern Transitional Council, heads from the southern city of Aden to Abyan province, November 26. (AFP)

ADEN - Yemeni military troops have started withdrawing from the southern Abyan Province according to local reports, in compliance with an agreement between the internationally recognized government of Yemen and the southern separatists, known as Southern Transitional Council (STC).
 
Unnamed military sources told Al-Masdar Online news that Army vehicles arrived at Ataq City, in the southeast province of Shabwah, from Abyan Province on January 14.
 
Other government army vehicles headed towards Bayhan town, in Shabwah, and the central province of Marib, the source added.
 
The pull-out would gradually gather pace in the coming days as security forces in Abyan prepare to assume their responsibilities in the province, sources told the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat.
 
Several military brigades would be redeployed in areas between Abyan, the western coast, and fronts bordering areas controlled by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. Prior to the military withdrawal, the two sides secured the release of detainees and prisoners, under Saudi sponsorship.
 
The STC received 28 detainees who had been released by the Yemeni government, who were handed over by the Saudi-led military, which included officers, who were freed from the prisons of the Yemeni government's army in the southern Shabwa province.
 
They had been captured during the fighting which erupted between the loyalists of the STC and the Yemeni army in August last year.
 
The prisoner swap, which had started on 11 January, took place under the Supervision of Saudi military personnel at the coalition headquarters in al-Briga west of the southern city of Aden, the temporary capital of the Yemeni government
 
The withdrawal of troops is part of a military deal, within the greater umbrella of the Riyadh agreement, between the UAE-backed STC and the government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, which is backed by Saudi Arabia.
 
According to the report, committees tasked with implementing the military agreement have 20 days at most to complete the troop pull-out, which began on January 12.
 
The deal aims to end a power struggle between the government and the STC, which seized control of the interim capital Aden in August 2019.
 
The Yemeni government, with support from a Saudi-led military coalition, has been battling the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in the country's north since March 2015. However, president Hadi has been facing an additional challenge to his authority from the STC. 

(With agencies)