Leader of Yemen forces loyal to Saleh is dead, says GPC

Ali Abdullah Saleh's General People's Congress party said his nephew - the leader of the elite Republican Guard - had died in hospital after sustaining wounds in clashes between Saleh loyalists and the Houthi rebels

General Tariq Saleh, a nephew of former Yemeni leader Ali Abdullah Saleh, speaks on his walkie-talkie at the Republican Palace in Sanaa January 10, 2011. Tariq has resigned from his post as commander of an elite military unit, officials said on May 3, 2012, part of a drive by the country's new U.S.-allied government to unite its army in order to fight al Qaeda. U.N. envoy Jamal Benomar told Reuters that Tariq Saleh, who earlier headed the Presidential Guard, had relinquished his new post as head of the 3rd Republican Guard brigade. Picture taken January 10, 2011. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah (YEMEN - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST MILITARY) - GM1E8540DT401
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The leader of Yemeni forces loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh has been killed, as Houthi rebels led a charge against associates of the murdered former president.

Saleh's General People's Congress party said Tariq Mohammed Abdullah Saleh, his nephew and the leader of the elite Republic Guard, had died of wounds suffered in clashes this week in Sanaa.

Fierce clashes broke out in Sanaa last week between Saleh supporters and the Iran-backed Houthis as a fragile alliance between the two sides broke down. The two camps had together been fighting pro-government forces backed by a Saudi-led military coalition that includes the UAE.

Things came to a head on Monday when Saleh was killed in a roadside attack by members of the Shiite militant movement. The former president was seen to have switched sides after saying on Saturday that he was open to talks with the Saudi-led coalition.


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On Tuesday, the GPC told Agence France-Presse that Saleh's nephew had died in hospital after sustaining a shrapnel wound to the liver.

The party did not elaborate.

The Houthis also stand accused by the GPC of killing the party's assistant secretary, Aref Al Zuka.

A leading party member told The National on Tuesday that Al Zuka was taken to a military hospital after being wounded in the same attack that killed Saleh, but was then killed by the Houthis himself at the hospital.

He said the fate of Abull Aziz Bin Habtoor, senior GPC member and prime minister of the Saleh-Houthi alliance's self-declared government, was unknown but that reports suggested the rebels had arrested him.

The party member said the Houthis had come to his home multiple times looking for him as they led a charge to arrest all GPC leaders — even those seen as low-level or lacking in power.

The rebels had also begun taking away children who had protested against them in recent days, the GPC member added.

Saleh's oldest son meanwhile pledged in a declaration sent to Reuters to fight the Houthis and liberate all territory held by the rebels.

"I am going to fight the enemies of the humanity and the enemies of our homeland who are trying hard to erase its identity and destroy its gains and humiliate the Yemenis," said Major General Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's ambassador to the UAE and the former commander of the Republican Guard.

There are expectations in Yemen that Maj Gen Saleh will now return to Yemen to lead a battle against the Houthis to take revenge for the killing of his father.

Also on Tuesday, thousands of Houthi supporters rallied in Sanaa as the rebels cemented their grip on the Yemeni capital.

The Houthis seized Sanaa in September 2014, forcing the government of president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi to relocate to the southern city of Aden. They briefly lost control of much of the city in the recent fighting with Saleh supporters before making a dramatic comeback.

New checkpoints manned by rebels sprung up across Sanaa on Tuesday as their leaders hailed their control of the capital, rallying supporters and pledging that backers of Saleh were safe.

Houthi supporters massed in their thousands near the capital's international airport, shouting "Sanaa is free and the state still stands!" and "Yemenis are one!" as rebel chiefs struck a conciliatory tone, declaring they were "ensuring the safety" of members of the GPC — a statement that stood in sharp contrast with the GPC's claims of a Houthi charge against them.