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Saudi-led coalition intensifies Yemen air strikes after Saleh's death

From Reuters - December 5, 2017

ADEN (Reuters) - A Saudi-led coalition intensified air strikes on Yemen early on Wednesday as the armed Houthi movement tightened its grip on the capital after it killed former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who switched sides in the civil war.

Saudi Arabia and its allies struck a day after Salehs son vowed to lead a campaign against the Iran-aligned Houthis.

The intervention by Ahmed Ali, a former leader of the elite Republican Guard once seen as a likely successor to his father, gives the anti-Houthi movement a potential figurehead after a week of fighting that saw the Houthis rout Salehs supporters in the capital.

Yemens war, pitting the Iran-allied Houthis who control Sanaa against a Saudi-led military alliance backing a government based in the south, has brought what the United Nations calls the worlds worst humanitarian crisis.

Saleh had helped the Houthis win control of much of the countrys north, including Sanaa, and his decision to switch allegiances and abandon the Houthis in the past week was the most dramatic change on the battlefield in years.

But the Houthis swiftly crushed the pro-Saleh uprising in the capital and killed him.

Coalition fighter jets carried out dozens of air strikes, both sides said, bombing Houthi positions inside Sanaa and in other northern provinces.

Yemens pro-Houthi Al Masirah television station said the coalition bombed Salehs residence and other houses of his family members.

Residents told Reuters loud explosions were heard in downtown Sanaa.

Masirah said air strikes also hit northern provinces including Taiz, Haja, Midi and Saada. There was no immediate word on casualties.

In a sign of support and defiance, tens of thousands of Houthi supporters staged a rally in Sanaa on Tuesday to celebrate the death of Saleh. They chanted slogans against Saudi Arabia and its allies.

The proxy war between regional arch-rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran has already killed more than 10,000 people, with more than two million displaced. Nearly a million have been hit by a cholera outbreak and famine threatens much of the country.

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