REG 190812 Saudi Crown Prince Yemeni President-1565607873428
Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, the Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense of Saudi Arabia, has met in Mina with President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi of Yemen. Image Credit: SPA

Aden: The head of Yemen’s Southern Transitional Council movement said he was ready to take part in Saudi-brokered peace talks after clashes with pro-government forces killed dozens in second city Aden.

Southern Transitional Council (STC) leader Aidarus al-Zubaidi also said late Sunday that he was committed to a ceasefire in Aden, where Southern Transitional Council forces have seized the presidential palace and army camps.

Southern Transitional Council forces and government soldiers have theoretically been allied in a Saudi-led coalition against the Iranian-supported Al Houthi rebels since 2015.

Al Houthi forces control vast swathes of Yemen’s north, including the capital Sana’a.

Al Zubaidi voiced the “readiness” of Southern Transitional Council forces “to work responsibly with... Saudi Arabia in managing this crisis” and to “attend the meeting called by the kingdom of Saudi Arabia with full openness”.

“We renew our commitment to continue the ceasefire” which the coalition called for on Saturday, he added.

Both the Yemeni government and Southern Transitional Council forces said Sunday they backed Riyadh’s call for dialogue and a suspension of the fighting, which threatened to deepen the country’s humanitarian crisis.

There have been no reports of clashes since then.

Since the fighting flared on Thursday, around 40 people have been killed and 260 others wounded including civilians, according to the UN.

Since 2015, fighting between the Al Houthis and Yemeni loyalists backed by the Saudi-led coalition has killed tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, aid agencies say.

The country is in the grip of a humanitarian crisis because of the raging conflict, according to the UN which estimates that almost 80 percent of Yemen’s 24.1 million are in need of assistance.

Early on Sunday, Saudi Arabia conducted an air strike against a Southern Transitional Council position in Aden and warned of further attacks if they fail to withdraw from positions they seized in the city.

Hadi held talks with Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Sunday to discuss the situation, the state-run SPA news agency reported.