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Shiite rebels say ready to evacuate key Yemeni city

The Security Council unanimously called on the Shiite rebels to leave Amran which they seized earlier in the week

Published: Updated:

Shiite rebels are to withdraw from a key city they seized in an advance towards Yemen’s capital and an army unit will now move into Amran, a spokesman said Saturday.

Amran, 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Sanaa, has seen fierce fighting since February as Houthi rebels known as Ansarullah advanced from their mountain strongholds towards the capital.

“Our men will withdraw from Amran as soon as an army unit moves in,” rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdessalam said, adding that the decision to pull back came in a deal struck with the defense ministry.

Abdessalam told AFP the military is sending a regiment to Amran and that the troops left the northern city of Saada and were expected in Amran later on Saturday.

“Other military units that are under the authority of the defense ministry will follow suit,” he added.

On Friday, the 15-member United Nations Security Council unanimously called on the Shiite rebels to leave Amran which they seized earlier in the week.

A statement by council members said the fighting impeded a political transition in Yemen, threatened to impose sanctions on those impeding it and called on all fighters to disarm.

Amran, home to an estimated 120,000 people, fell to the rebels on Tuesday after a three-day battle that the Red Crescent says uprooted some 10,000 families.

By seizing Amran, the rebels have made a major advance towards the capital, posing a threat to President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi’s government.

The rebels say a federalization plan agreed in February after national talks as part of a political transition would divide Yemen into rich and poor regions.

The government is also grappling with an Al-Qaeda threat and a separatist movement in the south.