Clashes erupt in Yemen capital after failed rebel talks

Sanaa (AFP) –


Clashes erupted in Yemen's capital late Friday, witnesses said, as talks between feuding rebel allies failed to broker a truce.

It is the third consecutive night of armed violence between supporters of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and Yemen's northern Huthi rebels, who jointly control the capital Sanaa.

Multiple witnesses said heavy gunfire could be heard in southern Sanaa late Friday night, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Fighting also erupted near the home of Brigadier Tarek Saleh, a nephew of the former president and commander in the force loyal to the Yemeni strongman.

Three people were killed in clashes with the Huthis outside of the commander's home on Thursday night, Saleh's General People's Congress (GPC) said.

Talks between members of the GPC and the Huthis' political council on Friday failed to reach an agreement between the two parties, a high-ranking GPC source told AFP.

An internal rift has shaken the fragile alliance between the Iran-backed Huthis and Saleh loyalists, who joined ranks in 2014 to seize Sanaa.

The former enemies drove President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's internationally recognised government out of the capital, which has been rocked by rebel infighting.

The wider Yemen conflict pits the Huthi-Saleh alliance against the Saudi-backed government of Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

The war has claimed more than 8,600 lives since Saudi Arabia and its allies joined the Hadi government's fight against the rebels in 2015, triggering what the United Nations has described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The rebel clashes in Sanaa come as tensions soar between the insurgents and the Saudi-led coalition, which imposed a crippling blockade on Yemen in response to a Huthi missile that was intercepted near Riyadh airport on November 4.

Saudi Arabia intercepted and destroyed another ballistic missile fired from Yemen late Thursday, state media in Riyadh said. No casualties were reported.

The coalition, which accuses the rebels of being a proxy for Saudi Arabia's regional rival Iran, says the blockade is meant to stop the flow of arms to the rebels from Tehran.

Iran denies it is supplying the Huthis with arms.