Middle East

Yemen conflict: Ex-leader Saleh appeals to Houthi allies

Militiamen loyal to the government take position during clashes with Houthi rebels in the Yemeni city of Aden (24 April 2015) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Fierce fighting has been continuing in the southern city of Aden

Yemen's former president has called on his Houthi rebel allies to withdraw from territory they have seized in return for a halt to Saudi air strikes.

Ali Abdullah Saleh appealed to various Yemeni factions and the Saudis to enter UN-mediated peace talks.

Yemen was thrown into turmoil after the Houthi rebels forced President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee to Aden and then to Riyadh, the Saudi capital.

A Saudi-led campaign seeking to restore Mr Hadi was launched last month.

Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday that it had achieved its goals, but that military action would continue as needed. Coalition warplanes carried out fresh strikes on Thursday and Friday.

Fierce fighting between rebels and southern militiamen allied to Mr Hadi has also continued in Aden.

In a message broadcast on his Yemen Today TV channel, Mr Saleh called on the Houthis "to accept all UN Security Council decisions and to implement them in return for a halt in the coalition forces' aggression".

"I urge them and everyone - militias and al-Qaeda as well as militias loyal to Hadi - to withdraw from all provinces, especially Aden," he said.

Mr Saleh is widely viewed to hold sway over army units fighting with the Houthis.

Meanwhile, the UN said more than 1,000 people had been killed in fighting in Yemen since late March, including more than 550 civilians and 115 children.

Also on Friday, Iran summoned the Saudi ambassador in protest after saying that Saudi military aircraft had turned back humanitarian flights heading for Yemen.

Iran has denied accusations by Gulf Arab states that it has provided financial and military support to the Houthis, who adhere to a branch of Shia Islam known as Zaidism.