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Rival Saudi-, UAE- backed militants claim advance in southern Yemen amid infighting

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Militants loyal to Yemen's separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) fire towards the positions of Saudi-backed militants loyal to Yemen’s former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi for control of Zinjibar, the capital of the southern Abyan province, in the Sheikh Salim area on May 23, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Saudi-backed militants loyal to Yemen’s former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi have claimed advances in the fight against once-allied UAE-backed militants in southern Yemen, who have denied the claim.

A source in the government of former president Hadi said the Saudi-backed militants captured the city of Ja'ar in the southern province of Abyan on Sunday following fierce clashes with the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC) separatists.

The source told Anadolu Agency that Abdel-Rahman Shineini, a senior commander of STC militants, had been wounded during the fighting.

STC spokesperson Mohammad al-Naqib, however, dismissed the report, saying the UAE-backed militants had repelled an "infiltration attempt" against the city.

"Within half an hour, the infiltrators were eliminated," he said in a tweet.

Yemen's southern regions have witnessed renewed clashes between Saudi-backed militants and STC separatists since the Southern Transitional Council in late April declared a state of emergency and announced “self-administration rule” in Yemen’s southern areas, including the port city of Aden which has served as the seat of Hadi’s regime.

Saudi Arabia said the declaration violated the Riyadh-brokered agreement which Hadi loyalists and the STC had signed last November to end their power struggle in southern Yemen.

The STC’s “self-rule” announcement has deeply divided the Saudi-led coalition of aggressors which has been waging a bloody war on the Yemeni people since 2015.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in order to bring Hadi back to power and crush the Houthi Ansarullah movement.

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the Saudi-led war has claimed more than 100,000 lives since its onset.

The war has also displaced some 3.6 million other Yemenis so far.

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