Ex-Yemeni strongman Saleh killed by rebels

Yemen rebel alliance teeters as strongman turns to Saudis

"The decision by (Saleh's) General People's Congress to take the lead and their choice to side with their people will free Yemen of ... militias loyal to Iran", the coalition said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency. It was not immediately clear if the fighting would resume again in the morning.

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

Reports on the death of Mohammad Abdullah al-Qousi, the pro-Saleh Interior Minister, are not confirmed, he added.

Yemen's former president on Saturday proposed talks with Saudi Arabia after an apparent split in the rebel alliance that could change the course of the war that has left thousands dead and the country on the brink of starvation.

Saleh on Saturday broke a three-year alliance with the Iran-backed Huthis, opening the door to negotiations with neighbouring Saudi Arabia for the lifting of a crippling blockade. It gave no further details.

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Rajah Badie, spokesman for the internationally recognized Yemeni government in exile in Riyadh, told Saudi-owned al-Arabiya TV that his forces "call on all Yemenis to support the uprising (being led by Saleh)", and that the uprising "spells the end of Iranian meddling in the country". He remained in the country, however, and continued to wield political power from behind the scenes. In 2014, his forces allied with the Houthis despite the fact that as president he had gone to war with them on more than one occasion.

Earlier on December 4, Huthi forces blew up Saleh's house in Sanaa and came under aerial attack by Saudi-led coalition warplanes for a second day, residents said.

"In addition, the fault lines of the conflict pre-date Saleh's involvement with the Houthis and numerous foreign powers involved in the Yemeni conflict are driven by their own strategic interests in the region", he added.

Suze van Meegen, Sanaa-based protection and advocacy adviser for the Norwegian Refugee Council, said Monday that the violence left aid workers trapped inside their homes and was "completely paralyzing humanitarian operations".

The rift appeared to be part of a plan by the Saudi-led coalition, which was fighting against the Houthis, to turn the tide of the war in their favor.

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