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Yemen humanitarian situation likely to worsen with Saleh death: Jim Mattis

Yemen humanitarian situation likely to worsen with Saleh death: Jim Mattis

"This hostage-taking is typical of the climate of hostility in Yemen towards journalists, who are often targeted in this conflict", said RSF's Alexandra El Khazen.

He said it could either push the conflict towards United Nations peace negotiations or make it an "even more vicious war".

In a televised speech, Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi called on Yemenis to rise up against the Iran-aligned Houthis.

The ICRC said on Tuesday that another 400 people have been wounded in the clashes, which first erupted last week as the alliance between the rebels and Saleh's followers crumbled.

Mattis said he did not believe the USA military would play a role in easing the humanitarian situation.

Mohamed Ali al-Houthi, a rebel leader, said Tuesday that "some sons" of Saleh have been hospitalized, without providing further details.

"(But) one thing I think I can say with a lot of concern and probably likelihood is that the situation for the innocent people there, the humanitarian side, is most likely to (get) worse in the short term", Mattis said.

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But with Saleh's forces seemingly in disarray, it was not immediately clear if the Saudi-led coalition would be able to turn the split to its advantage.

The proxy war between regional arch-rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia - armed and given intelligence by the West - has killed more than 10,000 people, with more than two million displaced.

Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency quoted Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari on Tuesday as saying that Saudi Arabia, "on behalf of the US and the Zionist regime (Israel), has a very important role in creating insecurity" in the Middle East. Speaking before the large rally, al-Houthi said that Saleh was "deceived... we hadn't hoped for what happened".

The International Committee of the Red Cross says that as many as 234 people have been killed in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, in street fighting this month between the country's Shiite rebels and the supporters of the slain former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The end of the alliance between the Houthis and Saleh might have tilted the three-year civil war in favor of Yemen's internationally recognized government and the Saudi-led coalition. But that alliance unravelled over the past week as the former leader reached out to the Saudi-led coalition that has waged an air campaign against the Houthis since March 2015.

The Houthis and Saleh's forces began fighting each other in Sanaa last week.

The 75-year-old strongman announced he was open to talks with Saudi Arabia and its allies on condition they ended their crippling blockade on Yemen's ports and airports - dealing a serious blow to his already fragile alliance with the Iran-backed Houthis.


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