An armoured vehicle belonging to forces of the Saudi-led international coalition is seen behind security barriers at the Central Bank headquarters in the Crater district of Aden. Image Credit: AFP

Aden: Southern forces vacated key public buildings in Yemen’s second city Aden on Saturday, which they had seized from forces loyal to President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, his information minister said.

The Southern Transitional Council forces pulled out of the headquarters of Hadi’s government, the supreme court and the central bank as well as Aden’s main hospital, Muammar Al Iryani said on Twitter.

Hadi’s government has refused to enter talks with them until they withdraw from the positions they seized in deadly fighting last week.

Iryani said preparations were also underway for a pullout by the fighters from the interior ministry and the Aden oil refinery.

The start of the withdrawal had been announced by the Saudi-led military coalition which has been backing Hadi’s government against northern-based Houthi rebels since 2015.

The UAE is Saudi Arabia’s main partner in that coalition.

The STC last week ousted Hadi forces from what was the capital of the formerly independent south in clashes that left around 40 people dead.

The coalition condemned the takeover of the city and urged the STC to withdraw to clear the way for peace talks.

The coalition said the positions that had been occupied in Aden would be handed over to the government.

Several other installations, including military camps, remain under the control of the STC, however, and it was not immediately clear if they too would be vacated as part of the withdrawal.

The Yemeni embassy in Washington tweeted a foreign ministry statement welcoming the Saudi initiative to address the “coup” in Aden.

It said the forces “must first commit to total withdrawal from areas forcibly seized by STC in past few days before start of any talks”.

South Yemen was an independent country until it merged with the north in 1990. An armed secession bid four years later ended in occupation by northern forces, giving rise to resentments which persist to this day.