Published: Tue, December 05, 2017
World Media | By June Phelps

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

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

Saleh's reported killing comes as a climax to the fighting erupted between the Iranian-allied Shiite rebels and forces loyal to Saleh last week.

Saleh has accused the Huthis of seeking to monopolise power and the rebels have accused the strongman of treason over his suspected contacts with Saudi Arabia.

The ex-president also called for an end to the "militia's rule on Yemen's land", adding that the Houthis had continued their "provocative acts against Yemeni citizens".

It came on the fourth day of fighting between Mr Saleh's supporters and Houthi fighters in the capital Sanaa, in a widening rift between the allies.

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He was escaping from Sana'a with an armored vehicle, when Saudi-led coalition killed him, along with his VP Aref Zoka and the secretary general of the National Congress Party Yaser al-Awazi.

Images circulating on social media showed Saleh's body cradled in a floral blanket, with what appeared to be a large head wound.

Saleh ruled for 33 years before being toppled in 2012 during popular protests.

On this regard, Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al-Thani said on Thursday, on the sidelines of the third edition of the Mediterranean Dialogues Forum, that Abdullah Saleh's insult to Qatar is unjustified. "However, I don't feel that his death will greatly impact the war, as he had recently split with the Houthi forces as he tried to end the Saudi blockade, which undermines any argument that he held sway with the Houthi leadership".

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But even without Saleh's loyalists, the rebels remain a powerful force.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) dismissed claims that Yemen's Houthi rebels fired a missile towards a nuclear plant in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, state news agency WAM reported. Iran supports the Houthis but denies arming them. The rivalry between Riyadh and Tehran, which has increased significantly in recent months, has exacerbated the conflict in Yemen.

The fighting has killed dozens of people and wounded hundreds, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, and raised concern of further casualties among civilians.

"Fighting is restricting the movement of people and life-saving services within Sana'a city. 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.

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