Houthi militia leader describes Saleh's death as 'extraordinary and historic'

06 December, 2017, 01:07 | Author: Kim Reid

As president of Yemen, Saleh had fought the Houthis in five conflicts between 2005 and 2012, before allying with them in 2014 after the Saudi-led coalition launched a military operation to restore the internationally-recognized president, Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi, after the Houthis had deposed and arrested him.

Saleh's rule over Yemen extended for more than three decades.

The Saudi-led air campaign, backed by US and other Western arms and intelligence, has killed hundreds of civilians but has failed to secure the coalition any major gains in the almost three-year-old campaign to restore Yemen's internationally recognised president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, to power.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to the press.

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Video footage of a body resembling Saleh has been circulating on social media.

Iranian, Russian and Arab media said Saleh may have been at the permanent headquarter of the General People's Congress in Sana'a where he has been killed.

However, in a speech late on Sunday, the day before his assasination, Saleh formally annulled his alliance with the Houthis and pledged to step up his fight. Around 250 people from both sides are reported to have been killed. Throughout the Yemeni Civil War he had allied with the Houthi rebels, who had been fighting against the Saudi-backed forces of Hadi ousted in 2015.

On Saturday, Saleh said that he was open to talks with a Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels, in what the fighters called "a coup" against their fragile alliance with the former president.

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The fighting in the capital of Sanaa caused residents to cower in their homes as explosions rocked the city overnight. "I can hear heavy shelling outside now and know it is too imprecise and too pervasive to guarantee that any of us are safe", she said.

A mortar shell also struck the Sana'a International Airport today amid increasing clashes between the Houthis and Saleh loyalists. The Houthis dominate the northern part of the city, while Saleh's forces hold the southern part, with much of the current fighting concentrated around the Political District, home to ministries and foreign embassies.

Saleh loyalists and rebel fighters continued to clash on Saturday afternoon in Sanaa, where violence has left at least 40 fighters dead or wounded since Wednesday according to rebel chief Abdulmalik al-Huthi.

The statement described Saleh as the master of betrayal and mentioned that his followers cut off roads and attacked the citizens violently in the context of their Saudi-led scheme.

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Yemen has been decimated by almost three years of fighting and a Saudi-led bombing campaign backed by the United States.

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