Mass rally in war-torn Yemen in support of rebels, former president

Yemen Mass Rally

Yemen Mass Rally

Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis marched on Saturday in support of Shiite Houthi rebels and their ally, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The march in the rebel-held capital, Sanaa, was in support of a new combined governing council the rebels and Saleh announced late last month, but which was immediately rejected by the internationally recognized government and the United Nations. Saleh was forced to step down in 2012 amid Arab Spring protests after more than three decades in power.

Yemen’s war pits troops and militiamen loyal to the government, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, against the Shiite rebels and Saleh loyalists. The Houthis captured Sanaa in 2014, and the U.S.-backed coalition began its offensive against them in March 2015.

Later in the day, coalition airstrikes hit the presidential palace in Sanaa and other areas in the city, leaving an unknown number of casualties, security officials said.

Peace talks collapsed earlier this month, and the Saudi-led forces resumed heavy airstrikes shortly thereafter.

In Oman, one of the locations used for peace talks, Houthi negotiators said that Saudi forces were preventing them from returning to Yemen by blocking international flights to Sanaa’s airport.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to brief journalists.