UN Security Council calls on all sides in Yemen to 'de-escalate'


United Nations (United States) (AFP)

The UN Security Council called Tuesday on all sides in war-torn Yemen to "de-escalate" and return to talks as the conflict there took an ominous turn with the killing of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

"The members of the Security Council call all sides to de-escalate and to recommit and re-engage without preconditions in the UN-led political process to achieve a durable ceasefire," Japanese ambassador Koro Bessho, the council's president, said after a closed-door meeting on the situation.

Bessho said the 15-member council was deeply concerned about the sharp escalation in violence as well as "the dire and deteriorating" humanitarian situation in Yemen.

"Yemen stands on the brink of a catastrophic famine," he said.

At the same time, he said the Security Council members "strongly condemn" missile attacks on Saudi Arabia.

Huthi forces have fired at least two ballistic missiles over the past month at Saudi Arabia, which is leading a coalition against the Iranian-backed rebels.

On Monday, Huthis killed Saleh, a former ally, and moved to consolidate their grip on Sanaa Tuesday after a night of heavy air strikes.

At least 234 people have been killed and 400 wounded in five days of heavy fighting in the Yemen capital, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.