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Yemen separatists, govt troops pull back from key southern city under Saudi deal

Yemeni separatists and forces loyal to the country’s UN-recognized government are pulling back from a key southern city, military officials said Thursday. The pullout from Zinjibar, the capital of southern Abyan province, which was envisaged under a Saudi-brokered peace deal, began this week, AP reported, citing the officials.

Fighting that had broken out in August, between the secessionists and troops loyal to Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, threatened their alliance in the Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting the Houthi rebels since 2015.

The fighting prompted Saudi Arabia to pressure both sides to the negotiating table in Riyadh, where they signed a peace agreement in November. Among other provisions, the deal stipulates that both sides pull out from Zinjibar, AP reported.

The withdrawal that’s underway is the first such pullout under the Saudi-brokered deal.