The separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) was defeated in the battle for Ataq, the capital of Shabwa province, after legitimate government forces expelled them the city.
The STC implicitly acknowledged its defeat, while local sources said the council was bringing in huge reinforcements from Aden, Yafa and Dhale to prepare for another attempt to seize Ataq.
The legitimate government condemned the expansion of the fighting to Shabwa, saying it aims to undermine the Saudi-led Arab coalition.
Government spokesman Rajeh Badi accused the leadership of the United Arab Emirates of supporting the STC.
The government is determined to confront the STC rebellion through all possible means, he stressed.
The UAE has repeatedly denied backing the separatists, saying it was a committed member of the Arab coalition.
On the ground, military and security sources in Ataq told Asharq Al-Awsat that fighting in the city ended on Friday morning when government forces countered an STC attack and forced its fighters to retreat.
The government forces in the area called on the STC to join the legitimacy and had given it an eight-hour deadline to comply.
Yemeni Prime Minister Moeen Abdulmalek had telephoned the governor of Shabwa to discuss the latest developments in the province after the government captured Ataq, official government sources revealed.
The premier hailed the efforts exerted by Saudi Arabia to end the military escalation, calling on all residents of Shabwa to unite to thwart attempts to target their stability.
STC deputy chief Hani bin Braik had claimed Friday morning that the council’s forces had stopped their advance “out of respect of the Saudi-led coalition.”
His allegations were met with derision.
“We will not stand idly by should the terrorist Islah party carry out more attacks,” he warned in a series of tweets, saying the STC was forced to defend itself against the government forces. He urged the coalition to dispatch a fact-finding mission to the area to uncover who was behind the unrest.