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Yemen's rebel supporters vow to continue resistance on conflict anniversary

Thousands of people in the rebel-held capital of Yemen have taken to the streets to show their support for Houthi insurgents. Earlier, a rebel court sentenced President Mansour Hadi to death in absentia for high treason.

Two years after the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition of Arab countries intervened against the Iran-backed Shiite rebels in Yemen, thousands of people in rebel-held Sanaa took to the streets and vowed to continue their resistance.

The protesters chanted slogans against "Saudi aggression" as they marched towards al Sabeen Square in the center of Yemen's capital city on Sunday.

On Saturday, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, a Houthi ally, slammed Riyadh's role in the conflict.

"Free Yemenis will continue to choose resistance as long as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia continues to choose war," Saleh said in a speech marking the two-year anniversary of the Yemeni conflict.

Jemen Huthi Demonstration (Getty Images/AFP/M. Huwais)

The protesters chanted slogans against "Saudi aggression"

Rebel leader Abdul Malik al Houthi said the Gulf coalition had been "living under the illusion that they can take Yemen in a week or a month ...  but have sunk into the mud."

Saudi Arabia launched an air campaign against Shiite Houthi rebels in March, 2015. Riyadh accuses Tehran of backing the rebels, who have made significant territorial gains in the impoverished Middle Eastern country, capturing the capital Sanaa and ousting internationally recognized president Mansour Hadi.

Over 10,000 people have been killed and three million displaced since the start of the conflict. More than 21 million people - over 80 percent of Yemen's population - are in urgent need of aid, and some 9.4 million Yemenis have problems accessing water, according to the UN.

In October last year, the Saudi-led coalition targeted a funeral procession in Sanaa, killing at least 140 people and wounding more than 525.

Jemen Präsident Abed Rabbo Mansur Hadi (Reuters/F. Al Nasser)

A Houthi court sentenced Mansour Hadi to death in absentia

High treason

On Saturday, a Houthi court sentenced Mansour Hadi to death in absentia on treason charges.

In its symbolic decision, the court found Hadi guilty of "usurping the title of president after the end of his term in office … instigating attacks by Saudi Arabia and undermining the independence of the Republic of Yemen."

Hadi, whose presidential term ended in February 2014, now lives in Riyadh but frequently visits his government's temporary capital of Aden.

The court also sentenced six members of the Hadi government to death.

UN-backed peace talks between Houthi rebels and Riyadh have not yielded results.

Watch video 02:42

A humanitarian crisis in Yemen

shs/jm (AFP, dpa)

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