Mass rally in Yemen in defiance of Saudi airstrikes | News | DW | 20.08.2016

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Mass rally in Yemen in defiance of Saudi airstrikes

A massive rally has been held in Sanaa in support of Houthi rebels and their allies. It comes a week after parliament approved a new ruling council.

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In a show of force, hundreds of thousands of flag-waving Yemenis rallied on Saturday in the capital, Sanaa, in support of Houthi rebels and their ally, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The protest was held in support of a 10-member ruling council set up last month by the Houthis and Saleh allies in defiance of the country's internationally recognized president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

It comes a week after parliament convened for the first time in two years to approve the council, after UN-backed peace talks between the warring parties broke down last month.

Hadi, the UN and Saudi Arabia have condemned the council and called it illegitimate.

Saleh al-Samad, the head of the council, told the rally a new government would be decided on in the "next few days."

The protesters also shouted slogans condemning the Saudi-led military campaign, which has rained further destruction on the Arab world's poorest state since a restart of operations that followed the breakdown of peace talks.

Saudi-led coaltion jets conducted airstrikes around Sanaa as the demonstration unfolded, including a targeting of the presidential palace.

The Saudi-led coalition of Arab states intervened in March 2015 to restore power to Hadi, who was forced to flee the country after Houthi rebels and forces loyal to Saleh took over the capital and other parts of the country in September 2014.

Despite the coalition campaign, Hadi-allied forces on the ground have failed to dislodge Houthis from large parts of the country, including the capital.

The conflict has killed at least 6,400 people and displaced nearly 2.5 million, prompting rising international calls for the coalition to halt the bombing and the US to withdraw intelligence and air-refueling support. Nearly 80 percent of the population is in need of humanitarian assistance.

The fighting has also opened up room for al-Qaeda and the so-called "Islamic State" to operate.

cw/rc (AP, dpa)

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