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USA calls on Yemen's warring factions to re-energize talks

06 December 2017, 07:57 | Joan Schultz

Supporters of Shiite Houthi rebels attend a rally in Sanaa Yemen following the killing of ex President Ali Abdullah Saleh

Supporters of Shiite Houthi rebels attend a rally in Sanaa Yemen following the killing of ex President Ali Abdullah Saleh

Mattis said he did not believe the USA military would play a role in easing the humanitarian situation.

"Increased hostilities will further threaten civilian lives and exacerbate their suffering", he said in a briefing to the Security Council on Tuesday.

Yemen's civil war, pitting the Iran-allied Houthis who control Sana'a against a Saudi-led military alliance backing a government based in the south, has led to one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, with the United Nations warning of a potential starvation that could threaten the lives of millions.

But with Saleh's forces seemingly in disarray, it was not immediately clear if the Saudi-led coalition would be able to turn the split to its advantage.

The commander of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, praised what he called the Houthis' swift quashing of the "coup against the holy warriors", the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

The war has already killed more than 10,000 and displaced millions.

Yemeni rebels deny they have detained the sons of slain former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The funeral of Saleh was expected later yesterday.

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He said it could either push the conflict towards United Nations peace negotiations or make it an "even more vicious war".

He says that "at the same time, people are bracing themselves for more".

The UN Security Council called Tuesday on all sides in war-torn Yemen to "de-escalate" and return to talks as the conflict there took an ominous turn with the killing of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Former president Saleh plunged the country deeper into turmoil last week by switching allegiances after years helping the Houthis win control of much of the country's north including the capital. He also called for a new approach in the battle against the rebel militia, who were allied with Saleh before he turned against them by backing the Saudi-led coalition. The ICRC didn't provide a toll from the near-daily airstrikes. Air strikes also hit northern provinces including Taiz, Hajjah, Midi and Saada, it said.

Steve Purbrick, MSF's coordinator in Hajja, described the attack as a "deliberate disregard for medical facilities" that endangered the lives of patients and medical staff, and compromised "the care MSF can provide in the midst of intense fighting".

The end of the alliance between the Houthis and Saleh might have tilted the three-year civil war in favor of Yemen's internationally recognized government and the Saudi-led coalition.

The Houthis and Saleh's forces began fighting each other in Sanaa last week. Many Sanaa residents remained hunkered down in their homes, fearing the rebels and the Saudi airstrikes, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity out of fear for their safety.



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