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Yemen's Houthi leader hails ex-president's death

Yemen's Houthi leader hails ex-president's death

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. Therefore, Houthis finally made a decision to kill him; not because he turned against them, but because he is capable of destroying their political project.Days ago, Saleh changed the map when he annulled his alliance with Houthis.

A senior official with Yemen's internationally-recognized government confirmed to The Associated Press that Saleh had been killed.

Saleh's death complicates this, though control of the his fighters may shift to his son, Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, or his nephew, Tariq.

In a televised statement on Saturday, the former president expressed his openness to talks with a Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi rebels, in what the fighters called "a coup" against their fragile alliance.

Albukhaiti said that fighters had secured key areas south of the capital, including the "very strategic" al-Mesbahi residential area, which is approximately 200 metres from Saleh's home.

Yemen's civil war has killed more than 10,000 people since 2015, displaced more than two million people, caused a cholera outbreak infecting almost one million people and put the country on the brink of starvation. He finally left power in early 2012, but retained a strong influence with many armed loyalists in the country.

The Houthis, who are believed to be backed by Iran, stormed Sanaa in September 2014.

But that alliance unravelled over the past week, with heavy fighting across the capital, and Saleh was shot dead by Houthi fighters after he fled the city.

Yemen fighting will lead to 'more tragedy'
Yemen's Houthi leader hails ex-president's death

Unverified footage of his bloodied body lolling in a blanket circulated just days after he tore up his alliance with the Houthis following almost three years in which they had jointly battled the Saudi-led coalition that intervened to try to reinstate Yemen's internationally recognised government.

The breakdown of the alliance has led the coalition to step up its bombing of Houthi positions, in support of Saleh's forces.

In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition intervened to reinstate Hadi's government.

"You can not say this is the end of his political movement, but it's a very big blow", he said.

"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.

Nevertheless, the murder of Saleh means that Iran has won in Yemen so far, he added. The Saudis had publicly welcomed Saleh's about-face, but any hope of a radical change in the balance of power in the conflict appears to have been terminated along with Saleh's life. In recent weeks, Houthis have claimed responsibility for rocket attacks against targets in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which Gulf leaders have publicly accused Iran of helping facilitate.

A proxy war in Yemen between the two regional powers will only deepen the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, such as starvation.