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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Yemen crisis: Saleh family members arrive in Aden after fleeing capital

Former president Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed by Yemen's Houthi rebels earlier this month after an alliance between the militants and his supporters broke down

Pro-government Yemeni fighters patrol after driving Houthi rebels from the district of Bayhan in Shabwa province on December 16, 2017. Soliman Alnowab / EPA
Pro-government Yemeni fighters patrol after driving Houthi rebels from the district of Bayhan in Shabwa province on December 16, 2017. Soliman Alnowab / EPA

Relatives of Ali Abdullah Saleh have arrived in the southern Yemeni city of Aden after fleeing the capital following the death of the former president.

Saleh was killed by Yemen's Houthi rebels earlier his month after an alliance between the militants and his supporters broke down. Since his death, the Houthis have gone after his supporters, killing several leading members of his General People's Congress party and detaining others. They have also detained members of Saleh's family, including two of his sons, Salah Saleh and Madyan Saleh.

A journalist close to the Southern Transitional Council, a secessionist body based in Aden, told The National that a number of Saleh's family members, most of them women and children, had arrived in Aden on Saturday night, travelling by car from Sanaa via Al Bayda province.

It is not clear where they will go from Aden though two of Saleh's sons — Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh and Khalid Ali Abdullah Saleh — have been living in the UAE since before their father's death. Ahmed is Yemen's ambassador to the UAE.

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Sheikh Hani bin Breik, the vice president of the Southern Transitional Council, said on Twitter that Saleh's family was welcome in Aden.

"The former president Saleh's family as well, as his [other] relatives, will get full care and they are going to be well protected until they get to their destination," he said.

The Houthis and Saleh formed an uneasy alliance in 2014 against the government of Saleh's successor, Yemeni president Abdrabu Mansur, which is backed by a Saudi-led military coalition. After the Houthis seized Sanaa in September 2014 Mr Hadi's government was forced to relocate to Aden and has been based there ever since.

Saleh's family members were able to travel safely to Aden following mediation led by tribal sheikhs close to the Houthis.

Elsewhere in Yemen, the Iran-backed rebels killed prominent tribal leader Sheikh Dhaif Allah Mothana, along with his brother and two of his sons, in Dhamar province, south of Sanaa, on Saturday.

The four men were travelling in a car when they were killed at a Houthi check point in Dhamar city.

They were targeted because of a sticker on their car showing support for Saleh, Rafat Abdul Kader, a Sanaa-based journalist told The National.

On Sunday, meanwhile, the state-run Saudi Press Agency, reported that the Yemeni army had made significant progress in its battles against the Houthis in Shabwa province.

A Yemeni military source, in a statement to the official Yemeni news agency, said the army had liberated the areas of Haid bin Aqeel and Hajar-Kahlan, with the Houthis fleeing to neighbouring Al Bayda province.

The source added that the army had seized heavy and medium weapons, along with various types of ammunition, left behind by the fleeing rebels.

A day before, Spa, citing Yemeni medical sources, reported that 70 Houthis had been killed in the past two days in both clashes and coalition air raids.

Updated: December 17, 2017 09:05 PM

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