Yemen's Saleh killed by former allies

Yemen's Saleh killed by former allies

Yemen's Houthi rebels say former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who ruled the country for more than three decades and played a pivotal role in the country's ongoing civil war, has been killed.

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.

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

Saleh was forced to step down in 2012, after his forces waged a bloody crackdown on peaceful Arab Spring-inspired protests calling for his ouster. His death puts the exclamation point on the end of an era in Yemen that had, for all intents and purposes, already come to a close.

Analysts said Saleh's death further diminished hopes of a resolution to the conflict, which has created one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. But, since they entered it, they seized arms stores, won loyalties and laid down their plans for the day in which they would fight Saleh and probably assassinate him and take over the capital.He dramatically changed the map of the war in Yemen the night he announced on TV that he accepted reconciliation, and assassinating him will not change this.

"We ask civilians to remain at least 500 metres (yards) away from Huthi military vehicles and gatherings", it said. Yasser al-Awadi, the assistant secretary-general of Saleh's political party, the General People's Congress (GPC), was also killed in the attack.

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The collapse of the alliance between Saleh and the rebels saw at least 100 people reported dead in fighting, accusations of betrayal and the former leader reaching out to the Saudi-led coalition. In Sept. 2014, Saleh teamed up with his former rivals, the Houthi militants, to capture Yemen's capital Sanaa. Government forces, supported by Saudi air power, have been progressing towards the city on the northeastern axis for the past few weeks. "The president will soon announce a general amnesty for all those who collaborated with the Huthis in recent months and who have retracted that allegiance", Prime Minister Ahmad Obaid bin Daghr said.

Warfare between the erstwhile allies has torn densely populated Sanaa for days, with Houthi fighters seizing control of much of the capital and on Monday blowing up Mr Saleh's house.

The fresh violence has increased fears for civilian victims of Yemen's war, which has claimed more than 8,750 lives since the Saudi-led coalition intervened.

Worldwide aid groups warned Monday they were losing the ability to reach civilians in Sanaa.

Mack told VOA, before news of Mr. Saleh's death, the former president "wanted to have one chance to restore his reputation, which has been terribly, terribly damaged during the past decade".

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