Trump calls on Saudi Arabia to lift Yemen blockade

Trilateral ferment

Saleh loyalists accused the Houthi fighters of raiding their bases across Sana'a and beyond, an allegation that the Houthi leader has strongly denied.

There are expectations in Yemen that Maj Gen Saleh will now return to Yemen to lead a battle against the Houthis to take revenge for the killing of his father.

Saleh was assassinated in a shooting on Monday December 4 by the Houthi militia while he was heading to his home in Sanhan city, Sanaa. "He got what he deserved", Ali Akbar Velayati, an aide to Iran's supreme leader, was quoted as saying by the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

The Houthis seized Sanaa in September 2014, forcing the government of president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi to relocate to the southern city of Aden.

Saudi Arabia and its allies struck a day after Saleh's son vowed to lead a campaign against the Houthis.

A video circulating on social media showed fully-veiled women chanting "The people want the martyr's body".

Saleh, who ruled Yemen with an iron fist for three decades until 2012, had joined forces with the Shiite Huthi rebels three years ago when they took control of large parts of the Arabian Peninsula country including the capital Sanaa.

The coalition bombed Saleh's residence and other houses of his family members, Yemen's pro-Houthi al-Masirah television station said.

Saleh's oldest son meanwhile pledged in a declaration sent to Reuters to fight the Houthis and liberate all territory held by the rebels.

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. That seems to have pushed Saleh into flirting with the coalition, ultimately leading to the breakdown of the rebel alliance.

It also shatters hopes by Yemen's Saudi-backed government that Saleh's recent split with the Iranian-backed rebels, known as Houthis, would have weakened them and given the government and the Saudi coalition backing a chance for a turning point in the stalemated war that has brought humanitarian disaster.

Global aid groups warned today they were losing the ability to reach civilians in Sanaa.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said Monday that at least 125 people had been killed and some 240 wounded in Sanaa since the fighting began last week.

Saleh's slaying likely gives the rebels the upper hand in the dayslong fighting for the country's capital, Sanaa. Speaking to reporters by phone from Sanaa, he said that "at the same time, people are bracing themselves for more".

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