Trump calls on Saudi Arabia to lift Yemen blockade

Trump calls on Saudi Arabia to lift Yemen blockade

The leader of Yemeni forces loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh has been killed, as Houthi rebels led a charge against associates of the murdered former president.

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

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

Saleh's former Houthi Shiite allies claim he was killed for "treason" for reportedly seeking to switch alliance to the Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting the Houthis for almost three years.

The collapse of the alliance between Saleh and the rebels saw at least 100 people reported dead in fighting, accusations of betrayal and the former leader reaching out to the Saudi- led coalition.

On Tuesday, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said the killing of Saleh would short term, likely worsen an already dire humanitarian situation in the country.

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

Saleh's political party, the General People's Congress, confirmed the death of the 75-year-old, blaming the rebels.

Air raids also struck northern provinces including Taiz, Haja, Midi and Saada, the rebel-owned channel said, although there was no immediate word on casualties.

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Trump's brief, one paragraph statement is one of the clearest signs of USA concern over aspects of Saudi Arabia's foreign policy.

Yemen's civil war has caused a desperate starvation in the country, as well as a cholera epidemic that has killed more than 2,000 people.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to the press.

Saleh, who ruled Yemen for more than three decades, allied with Houthis after an Arab Spring uprising forced him to resign in 2012. He remained in the country, however, and continued to wield power from behind the scenes.

The Iranian-backed rebels, known as Houthis, killed Saleh on Monday, days after their alliance with him broke down amid clashes in the capital, Sanaa.

The Saudi-led coalition warned the city's residents to evacuate rebel-controlled areas, as global aid groups warned Monday they were losing the ability to reach civilians in Sanaa.

Suze van Meegen, Sanaa-based protection and advocacy adviser for the Norwegian Refugee Council, said Monday that the violence left aid workers trapped inside their homes and was "completely paralyzing humanitarian operations".

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

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