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Yemen's Saleh declares alliance with Houthis

Ex-president denounces Arab coalition after escaping attack on his home while Houthis respond positively to truce plan.

air strikes

Yemen's former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, has formally announced an alliance with Houthi fighters for the first time, after the Arab coalition launched two air strikes on his home in the capital, Sanaa.

Saleh, who was forced to step aside in 2012 following a year of deadly nationwide protests against his three-decade rule, escaped unharmed after the attacks early on Sunday.

He was not at home during the bombing, which killed three guards and destroyed three buildings.

Saleh, who was accused of siding with Houthi fighters who toppled UN-backed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in February, was later defiant against the Arab coalition.

"You should continue carrying your arms, ready to sacrifice your lives in defence against these beligerent attacks," Saleh said, addressing Houthis after the attack.

"I can describe this aggression as an act of cowardice.

"If you are brave enough, come and face us on the battlefield, come and we will be at your reception. Shelling by rockets and jet fighters can not enable you to achieve any of your goals."

Saleh's comments came after Houthi fighters released a statement that they would deal "positively" with any efforts to lift the suffering of the Yemeni people.

The declaration was seen as a sign that they could accept a five-day humanitarian ceasefire proposed by Saudi Arabia, which is leading the coalition.

The Houthis' political council said on Sunday that they would like to see humanitarian aid delivered to the Yemeni people as soon as possible.

The statement added that the Houthis want talks between political factions to be held under the umbrella of the UN.

Houthi sources say that the group would never accept talks to be held in Riyadh, or any other nation involved in the Arab coalition that has been bombing the country since March 26.

Five-day ceasefire

Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi foreign minister, announced a proposal on Thursday for a five-day ceasefire to facilitate humanitarian aid to civilians, but only on the condition that the Houthis also halt the fighting.

The proposed truce, if agreed, would begin on Tuesday.

The latest strikes in the capital came after the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen said that the coalition's air strikes on Saada city in Yemen were in breach of international law.

The conflict in Yemen has killed over 1,400 people - many of them civilians - since March 19, according to the UN.


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