Published: Tue, December 05, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Ex-leader of Yemen killed as rival groups of rebels wage war

Ex-leader of Yemen killed as rival groups of rebels wage war

Yemen's ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh has been killed by Houthi rebels near the capital, Sanaa, a development expected to have major implications for the war in the Arab world's poorest country.

Mr Saleh's death could mark a turning point in the proxy war between the Sunnis of Saudi Arabia and the Shias of Iran that has left thousands of people dead and caused one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

In a statement read out on a Houthi television network, the interior ministry announced the "killing" of "Saleh and his supporters".

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Former leader killed in grenade and gun attack, Houthis say, as death is also confirmed by Saleh's own political party.

Earlier on Monday, a Sanaa-based activist said that the Houthis had gained control of most of Sanaa from Saleh's forces.

A dominant figure in Yemen, Saleh, 75, ruled the country for more than three decades before being deposed in 2012.

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Houthi went on to blast Saleh for betraying the loyalty of those he had worked with and claimed the ordinary people of the capital could not understand how he had changed sides after three years of denouncing the Saudi-led coalition. He remained in the country, however, and continued to wield power from behind the scenes.

Fighting erupted between the Iranian-allied Shiite rebels and forces loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh last week, unraveling their fragile alliance, formed in the face of the internationally-recognized government and Saudi-led coalition.

The Houthis accused Saleh of betrayal, and vowed to keep up the fight against the Saudi-led coalition.

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Any hope of the coalition that Mr Saleh could have been bought off to help turn the tables against the Houthis after a protracted stalemate, in which a Saudi-led blockade and internal fighting has exposed millions to hunger and epidemic, has been dashed.

But the head of the Houthis' Ansarullah group warned that the biggest victor from what he described as Saleh's "sedition" was the Saudi-led coalition. He also succeeded in playing rivals off against one another and positioning himself as a counterterrorism ally of the United States, while also aligning with Iran and other parties when necessary.

"Let's join hands to end the control of these. criminal gangs and. open a new chapter to rid our beloved Yemen of this nightmare", Hadi said from Saudi Arabia, where he lives in exile. It was said that they were the strongest party, and that any attempt at driving them out would lead to a bloody war between the two parties in the city's historic streets.

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