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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

Yemen allies 'agree to end tensions' after deadly clash

Signs of strain between the Houthis and Saleh loyalists spilled into the open when violence broke out on Saturday

The Houthi rebels and their allies in the Yemen war, supporters of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, claimed on Tuesday they had agreed to ease tensions between them after three people were killed in a clash.

Signs of strain between the two sides spilled into the open when violence broke out on Saturday, marking a breakdown within the main political coalition fighting the Saudi-backed government of president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi in the two-and-a-half year conflict.

In a bid to repair relations, delegations led by Aref Al Zouka, head of Mr Saleh's General People's Congress (GPC), and the Houthi Ansarullah group's official spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam met in the Yemeni capital Sanaa late on Monday.

The two sides decided to "remove all causes of the tensions that occurred in the capital Sanaa and to return the security situation to what it was before the activities last week", they said after the meeting, according to Reuters.

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The Iran-aligned Houthis and Saleh loyalists together rule northern Yemen and have maintained an uneasy alliance throughout the conflict which has seen the deaths of at least 10,000 people, displaced millions and unleashed hunger and disease.

Mr Saleh ruled Yemen for more than 30 years before he was toppled in 2012 during the Arab Spring. A mass rally to commemorate his party's founding anniversary last week aroused the ire of the Houthis, who viewed it as a show of force meant to undermine them.

Tensions boiled over on Saturday night when Houthi fighters set up a security checkpoint near the home of Mr Saleh's son and his media office.

Two Houthi fighters were killed and Colonel Khaled Al Radhi, who served as a senior official in Mr Saleh's GPC party, was killed.

Both sides agreed at the meeting to close ranks and "unify efforts to confront the aggression", referring to the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen.

The Saudi-led coalition intervened in the war in 2015 in an effort to restore Mr Hadi's internationally-recognised government to power in Sanaa after the Houthi rebels seized the capital and entered into alliance with Mr Saleh.