SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Infighting between pro-Yemen government forces in a southern province has killed at least three civilians, military and medical officials said Monday.
Clashes broke out on Sunday night in Ataq, the provincial capital of Shabwa, between the UAE-backed Giants Brigades and Shabwa Defense Forces on one side and the paramilitary police known as the Special Forces security on the other. Both sides are part of the Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting the country’s Houthi rebels since 2015.
Fifteen people, mostly fighters, were killed in the violence, which followed the UAE-backed governor’s decision to sack an anti-Emirati police commander, officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
On Monday, missiles struck Ataq airport, where UAE troops are stationed, officials said without providing immediate details.
Troops and armored vehicles from both sides were deployed in the streets of Ataq on Monday. Dozens of families had packed up and left town, and shops were not opening for fear the violence would continue, according to witnesses who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals.
Also on Monday, the internationally recognized presidential council convened in an extraordinary meeting and endorsed the decision of the governor of Shabwa and sacked three other senior police and army officials, according to the state-run SABA news agency.
The council warned that such infighting would only serve the Houthi rebels by weakening the anti-Houthi bloc.
Yemen’s civil war erupted in 2014, when the Iran-backed Houthis descended from their northern enclave and took control of the capital, forcing the government to flee south ahead of its exile in Saudi Arabia. A coalition led by Saudi Arabia – then backed by the United States – went to war in early 2015 in an attempt to restore the government to power. Since then, the conflict has escalated into a proxy war between regional enemies Saudi Arabia and Iran, which supports the Houthis. The war has also resulted in one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
Last week, the rebels and the government agreed to renew an existing truce for another two months after concerted international efforts.
left fifteen soldiers killed, pro-government