The head of Yemen’s separatist movement said he was ready to take part in Saudi-brokered peace talks. The statement comes after clashes with pro-government forces reportedly killed dozens in second city Aden.

Southern Transitional Council (STC) leader Aidarus al-Zubaidi also said late Sunday that he was committed to a ceasefire in Aden, where the separatists have seized the presidential palace and army camps, AFP reported.

Zubaidi said last week’s violence had been “provoked” by forces loyal to Riyadh-based Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

The fighting pitted the UAE-trained Security Belt Force dominated by fighters who back the STC – which seeks independence for south Yemen – against loyalist forces. For the past five years both camps, backed by a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have been engaged in a war against Houthi rebels.

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