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World

AFP
December 6, 2017

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Yemeni rebels tighten hold

Yemeni rebels tighten hold

SANAA: 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.


The former strongman retained the loyalty of some of the best equipped units of the army after he was forced to step down as president in 2012. Saleh, who ruled Yemen for three decades, had joined forces with the Huthis in 2014 when they took control of large parts of the country, including the capital.


But that alliance unravelled over the past week as the former leader reached out to the Saudi-led coalition that has waged an air campaign against the Huthis since March 2015. In a sign of confidence, the Huthis called a mass rally for Tuesday afternoon to celebrate their "foiling of the plot" hatched by Saleh to change sides in Yemen’s devastating civil war.

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