Saudi forces have left Ataq, the capital of Shabwah province and started moving towards the al-Wadea border crossing, linking Saudi Arabia with eastern Yemen, in the early hours of Monday.
Informed sources confirmed, that Riyadh directed the commander of its forces in Shabwah to leave immediately, after the leadership of the Islah Party (Muslim Brotherhood) authorities in Shabwah rejected the request of the Saudi Military Commission to give the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC) militia additional months extension on a deadline to withdraw from the Balhaf facility.
According to other sources, the relations between the commander of Saudi forces and the Islah authorities worsened after the attack on a military camp in al-Alam by Islah militants on Sunday.
The sources explained that Saudi forces withdrew their military equipment and the STC communications network, in addition to dismantling its electricity generator, at the request of the UAE.
Military observers considered the Saudi withdrawal from Ataq as a green light to the STC to attack Islah militants in Shabwah.
The Saudi withdrawal comes amid significant advances made by the Yemeni army forces in Ma’rib and Shabwah provinces, which raises Saudi concerns in the two provinces. This is likely exacerbated by the fact that Islah authorities in Ma’rib city have openly started discussing the possibility of surrendering to the forces of the National Salvation Government of Yemen.
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