CAIRO (Sputnik) — Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh for the first time confirmed Sunday his alliance with the Houthi militants, also known as Ansar Allah (Supporters of God) religious tribal group.
Earlier in the day, the coalition aircraft conducted several airstrikes on Saleh’s house in the capital Sanaa. Several people have reportedly died, while Saleh and members of his family were not injured.
“Earlier I was not an ally of Ansar Allah, but today I declare that the Yemeni people will be an ally of anyone who protects national interests in the face of the Saudi aggression,” Saleh said Sunday in an address to the nation broadcasted by the Al Yemen Al Youm TV Channel.
He also called on all the citizens of Yemen to defend their country against the aggression.
Saleh stepped down as the Yemeni President following the 2011 anti-government uprising known as the Arab Spring.Yemen has been engulfed in violence and political deadlock since late 2014, when the Houthi rebels, supported by the forces loyal to Saleh, took control over large swathes of the country, including Sanaa.
On March 26, the Saudi-led coalition of Arab states started conducting airstrikes on Yemen, targeting Houthi rebel positions at President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi’s request.
On April 21, the coalition said it had ended the Decisive Storm military operation and announced the start of the Restoring Hope campaign, saying it would focus on counter-terrorism and humanitarian efforts. Despite the announcement, the airstrikes have continued.
More than 1,400 people, about half of them civilians, have died in Yemen since mid-March, according to the recent UN estimates.