Sana’a: Forces loyal to Yemen’s internationally recognized government have taken full control of a key southern city after overnight clashes with Southern Transitional Council (STC) forces there, Yemeni security officials said Friday.
Clashes over Ataq, the capital of oil-rich Shabwa province erupted late Thursday night and lasted until Friday morning, said the security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because there were not authorized to talk to the media.
The city of Ataq was previously divided between the government forces of Saudi-backed President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and STC forces.
STC forces have so far seized strategic southern areas, including the city of Aden and much of the nearby Abyan province.
A Saudi-Emirati commission flew to southern Yemen last week to negotiate a truce between the government forces and STC forces but has so far made no progress.
In a tweet posted early Friday, Hani Ben Braik, an STC leader, would not admit defeat at Ataq but said his men chose not to pursue a battle in the city out of “respect” for the truce efforts.
However, Ben Braik warned his forces would fight back if they were attacked again.
Also Friday, government troops gave STC forces an eight-hour ultimatum to declare loyalty to Hadi, “end sedition” and join forces with them.
“We are calling upon you to listen to the voice of reason and logic,” said the statement, released by Hadi’s forces in Ataq.