Pro-Saudi militants and separatists clash in Taiz
SANA’A – Armed conflict has broken out between different factions that make up the pro-Saudi forces in the coastal district of Mocha, Taiz province.
According to sources reported by Yemen Press Agency, clashes have been taking place between UAE-backed gunman led by Tariq Afash, and South Yemeni separatist forces under the command of Raed al-Yafei. The fighting reportedly started after a pro-Tariq force military vehicle ran over an al-Yafei soldier at a military checkpoint.
Southern forces then pursued the vehicle further into Mocha, where violence broke out between two camps. Several dead and wounded have been reported.
Tariq’s forces are being supported by the United Arab Emirates, and are generally opposed to the Southern Movement. This has brought them into conflict with many in the southern provinces of Yemen, who were hoping to achieve larger autonomy under coalition control. Many Southern leaders have accused Tariq Afash and his forces of being a continuation of the old regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh, the military leader who ruled Yemen with an iron fist from 1990 until 2011.
The conflict in Taiz marks another chapter in the increasingly hostile relations between the Emirati forces and Southern secessionists, although the two used to cooperate closely in previous years.