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Yemen rebels tighten hold after killing ex-strongman

  • Published at 05:08 pm December 5th, 2017
Yemen rebels tighten hold after killing ex-strongman

Yemen's Huthi rebels moved to cement their grip on the capital on Tuesday after killing former president Ali Abdullah Saleh as he fled the city following the collapse of their uneasy alliance.

Residents reported a few minor clashes between the Huthis and Saleh supporters late on Monday in southern districts which had been loyal to the slain strongman.

But there was no repetition of the heavy fighting that had rocked Sanaa for the five previous nights.

A least 234 people were killed and 400 wounded in those clashes, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Tuesday.

New checkpoints manned by rebels sprung up across Sanaa as their leaders hailed their control of the capital.

"We declare the end of security operations and the stabilisation of the situation," senior Huthi official Saleh al-Sammad told the rebels' Almasirah television channel late on Monday.

Sammad said he had ordered the security forces to "take steps against the saboteurs and all those who collaborated with them".

The capital was awash with unconfirmed rumours of widespread arrests of suspected Saleh supporters in the army and the rebel government.

Exiled son calls for revenge

The son of Saleh has called for revenge against the Huthi movement, Saudi-owned al-Ekbariya TV reported on Tuesday.

The intervention by the exiled Ahmed Ali Saleh, if confirmed, could shift the balance of power yet again after a dramatic week that saw the elder Saleh abandon his Huthi allies, who responded by killing him and routing his family's forces from the capital Sanaa in street battles.

Yemen's civil war, pitting the Iran-allied Huthis who control Sanaa against a Saudi-led military alliance backing a government based in the south, has led to one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, with the United Nations warning of a potential famine that could threaten the lives of millions.

Sanaa was quiet on Tuesday after five days of fighting and 25 airstrikes overnight, and UN and Red Cross aid flights had landed at the airport, UN humanitarian coordinator in Yemen Jamie McGoldrick said. The funeral of Saleh was expected later on Tuesday.

Arab states, which mainly support the Saudi-backed government, condemned the killing of the veteran ex-leader, saying his death could cause an "explosion" in the country.

The death of Saleh, who once compared ruling Yemen to dancing on the heads of snakes, deepens the complexity of the multi-sided war.