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Thousands rally in Yemen to end two-year Saudi siege

MOHAMMED HUWAIS / AFP | Yemeni supporters of the Huthi movement and former president former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, chant slogans during a rally to mark two years of the military intervention by the Saudi-led coalition

Tens of thousands of Yemenis protested Sunday in the capital Sanaa against the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen as it marked its second anniversary.

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The protests, organized by Shiite Houthi rebels supporting former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and Houthi leader Abdul-Malek al-Houthi, called for an end to the conflict which has killed more than 10,000 civilians, displaced over three million people and pushed the impoverished country to the brink of famine.

"I participated in the protests against the aggression (by the Saudi-led coalition), maybe our voice will be heard by the world over to stop the war," protester Ahmed Mohsen told The Associated Press.

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Addressing the crowds, Saleh al-Samad, chairman of the Supreme Political Council, the highest political body in Yemen's rebel-held areas, gave a speech urging Yemenis to continue to support the Houthis.

The protests come as fighting raged between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels in the Nihm district northeast of Sanaa, and the southern city of Taiz.

The coalition, which backs Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi's internationally recognized government, has been launching airstrikes in the hopes of driving out the rebels and restoring Hadi's rule. Despite the ongoing military campaign, the Houthis and their allies still control Sanaa and much of Yemen's north.

Supported by the U.S. and British governments, the coalition has been largely criticized by human rights watchdogs for the deaths of civilians killed by airstrikes on or around mosques, funerals, weddings, homes, markets and schools.

Human Rights Watch said in a January report that it has documented 61 apparently "unlawful Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, some of which may amount to war crimes" and urged the British and American governments to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

The war has ground into a stalemated conflict in recent months. Peace efforts by the United Nations also have faltered.

(AP)

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