Yemen rebel alliance teeters as strongman turns to Saudis

Yemen rebel alliance teeters as strongman turns to Saudis

The leader of Yemen's Shiite Houthi rebels says his forces have killed the country's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh for his "treason".

As fighting rocked the capital on Monday, the Huthis said Saleh had been killed, and a video they supplied to AFP showed what appeared to be his corpse.

An urgent meeting will be held soon in Iran between Qatar's Minister of State for Defense Khalid al-Attiyah, Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Mohammad Ali Jafari, and representatives of Hezbollah and Houthi rebels, according to informed sources.

It was the fourth day of clashes sparked by what Saleh's General People's Congress (GPC) called an attempt to seize a main mosque in the city.

Residents in the capital of Sanaa mired in the humanitarian catastrophe said that they had witnessed the explosion at Saleh's home.

Two of Saleh's associates have confirmed as has a third official from the government of Yemen's internationally recognised president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

The breakdown of the fragile alliance has caused the Saudi-led coalition to step up its bombing of Houthi positions, in support of Saleh's forces, leaving the rebels increasingly isolated after three years of war.

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Yemen expert Nadwa Dawsari, of non-profit Project on Middle East Democracy, said Saleh's killing could have grave consequnces for the country.

The Houthi claim come as tensions soar between the insurgents and the Saudi-led coalition, which imposed a crippling blockade on Yemen in response to a Houthi missile that was intercepted near Riyadh airport on 4 November.

Saleh ruled Yemen for more than three decades until he was forced to resign following an Arab Spring uprising in 2011. He remained in the country, however, and continued to wield political power from behind the scenes.

The Houthis and forces allied to Saleh swept into the capital, Sanaa, in 2014.

The education ministry canceled classes on December 3, normally the start of the school week, and witnesses said some bodies of those killed in previous clashes were still lying in the streets, AFP reported.

Saudi Arabia views the Houthis as an Iranian proxy located just next door.

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