Yemen's strongman ex-president killed as battle rages in capital

Posted Декабря 05, 2017

The circumstances of Saleh's death were unclear but Houthi officials said their forces caught up with him as he tried to flee capital city Sanaa.

The official added that the Yemeni Interior Ministry will issue a statement in a few minutes to confirm the death of Ali Abdullah Saleh and a number of others during the UAE airstrikes.

Former president Saleh and the Yemeni military fought the Houthi rebels five times from 2005 to 2014, before becoming allies after the Saudi-led coalition took military action in March 2015 to restore President Hadi to power, who had been ousted and imprisoned by the Houthis.

However, Saleh's party said the ex-president had been killed outside Sanaa.

United Nations humanitarian affairs chief Mark Lowcock said on Friday that the Saudi-led military coalition must fully lift its blockade on Yemen, where 7 or 8 million are "right on the brink of starvation", Reuters reported.

Saleh ruled Yemen for more than three decades until he was forced to resign following an Arab Spring uprising in 2011.

Mr Saleh ruled Yemen for more than 30 years.

The news that Saleh had been killed came just hours after Saudi Arabia chose to back Saleh, calling his fight against the Houthis a "popular uprising".

"He was martyred in the defence of the republic", said Faiqa al-Sayyid, a leader in the General People's Congress, blaming Huthi rebels for Saleh's killing south of the capital Sanaa.

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

His death and the fighting between his supporters and the Houthis puts the civil war on an unpredictable path.

Saudi Arabia, accusing arch-rival Iran of backing the rebels, intervened in the Yemen war on behalf of the government the following year.

The meeting aims to discuss ways to save Houthis and help them maintain their influences. The rivalry between Riyadh and Tehran, which has increased significantly in recent months, has exacerbated the conflict in Yemen. "There is a street war and people are holed up in their houses", according to an activist who works with the International Organization for Migration in Sanaa.

Fierce fighting around Yemen has reportedly killed dozens of people over the weekend (December 2 to 3).

Iran supports the Houthis politically but denies that it has helped to arm the rebel group.