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11.08.2019 Middle East

Yemen presidential palace under control of separatists

LISTEN AUG 11, 2019

Separatists in Yemen have seized the presidential palace in the southern port city of Aden – along with military camps and other sites in the city – leading Saudi coalition forces to call for a ceasefire.

Reports say the separatists effectively took control of Yemen's second-biggest city late Saturday, following days of clashes with troops loyal to Yemen's internationally backed government.

"We took the Maashiq palace from presidential (guard) forces without a fight," a spokesman for the separatist-dominated Security Belt force told the French news agency AFP.

Fighting broke out on Wednesday when forces loyal to the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC) – which wants an independent south – attempted to break into the palace.

This was in response to calls by the STC's deputy head, former cabinet minister Hani Bin Braik, for the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to be toppled.

The Saudi-led coalition fighting the STC has urged an immediate ceasefire, adding that it would “use military force against anyone who violates it".

Yemen's government has described the STC's seizure of Aden, which complicates efforts to bring peace to the region, as a "coup".