Yemen's deposed former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed on Monday during clashes in the capital city of Sana'a, marking a risky new turn in the country's civil war.
As the first reports of Saleh's death came in, the Saudi-led coalition that has waged devastating air strikes against the Huthis since September 2015 warned residents to evacuate rebel-controlled areas. Three days earlier, Saleh had turned against his Houthi rebel allies, switching sides in a conflict that has been raging for roughly three years. The new situation is critical and unsafe, and requires the interference of the Yemeni army and coalition forces in Sanaa, as well as working with Saleh's forces, which are still in shock.The people of Sanaa and the forces of the late Saleh have a great interest in fighting a war to reclaim their city from Houthis.
Members of his political party claimed Saleh had been killed at point-blank range, after his three-vehicle convoy was stopped by Houthi militiamen.
Speaking later on television, President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, the leader of the internationally recognized government, called on Yemenis to unite against the Huthis.
Firefighters hose a building in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen.
The government, which has operated out of southern city Aden since being ousted from the capital, ordered an offensive to advance on Sanaa.
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The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to the press.
As president, Saleh had been a close ally of both Saudi Arabia and the United States, which considered him a partner in the fight against al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen and a bulwark against the influence of Iran. 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.
That dealt a serious blow to his already fragile alliance with rebel chief Abdul Malik al-Huthi.
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In a speech on Saturday the 75-year-old abandoned Iran-aligned Houthi allies in favour of a Saudi-led coalition, saying he was ready for a "new page" in ties with the coalition and called the Houthis a "coup militia", leading them to accuse him of betrayal.
Mack told VOA, before news of Mr. Saleh's death, the former president "wanted to have one chance to restore his reputation, which has been terribly, terribly damaged during the past decade".
"Today marked the failure of the conspiracy and treason, a black day for the forces of aggression", he said on Al-Masirah.
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Worldwide aid groups warned Monday they were losing the ability to reach civilians in Sanaa.