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An image grab taken from AFP TV on December 2, 2017 shows Huthi rebel fighters taking cover from fire by supporters of Yemeni ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, during clashes in the capital Sanaa. Clashes erupted in Yemen’s capital late on December 1, witnesses said, as talks between feuding rebel allies failed to broker a truce. Tension between the Huthis and Saleh has been rising in recent months, as he accused them of seeking to monopolise power and the rebels have accused the strongman of treason over his suspected contacts with Saudi Arabia. / AFP PHOTO / AFPTV / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)

From the Washington Post:

 Days of fierce clashes here in Yemen’s capital have opened a violent new front in the country’s multisided civil war, with an alliance of Yemeni forces battling a Saudi-led military coalition fracturing — a potentially major shift in the conflict.

The latest clashes have pitted a Yemeni rebel group known as the Houthis against forces loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh, the former president of Yemen who was ousted five years ago but continues to wield outsized influence.

Dozens of people have been killed in the fighting, which started Wednesday. The clashes started with a standoff at a mosque in Sanaa, according to officials in the capital. But like most episodes in the war, the exact cause remained murky, and there was immediate suspicion that Saudi Arabia and its allies, including the United Arab Emirates, had played a role in turning Saleh against the Houthis.

Through the week, the fighting roared through southern neighborhoods of Sanaa as mediators tried in vain to defuse the crisis. By early Saturday morning, the battle had widened, and residents of the city were jolted awake by the sound of heavy artillery shelling.

In a statement, the Saudi coalition praised the “uprising” by members of Saleh’s political party against the “evils of Iranian terrorist and sectarian militias.” The shift in tone was evident on al-Arabiya, a Saudi-owned news channel, which played Saleh’s statement repeatedly and referred to him as the “former president,” rather than the “ousted president,” as had been the channel’s previous practice.

 

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