Thousands protest against Saudi-led coalition in Yemen

A massive rally has been held in Yemen's capital Sanaa in support of Houthi rebels and their allies, a week after the country's parliament approved a new ruling council.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

People rally to show support for a political council formed by the Houthi movement and the General People's Congress party to unilaterally rule Yemen, in the country's capital Sanaa, August 20, 2016.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis marched on Saturday in support of Shia 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 Yemen's internationally recognised government and the United Nations.

Saleh was forced to step down in 2012 amid the Arab Spring protests after spending more than three decades in power.

The civil war in Yemen has pit troops and militiamen loyal to the government, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, against the Shia rebels and Saleh loyalists. The Houthis captured Sanaa in 2014, and the US-backed coalition began its offensive against them in March 2015.

Saleh al Sammad (front C), who heads the Supreme Political Council, formed by the Houthi movement and the General People's Congress party to unilaterally rule Yemen, sits behind bulletproof glass as he attends the rally held to show support.

As Houthi demonstrators packed Sanaa's Sabeen Square waving Yemeni flags and chanting slogans, chairman Saleh al-Samad outlined the council's plans for running the war-ravaged country.

"Economic affairs will be the priority of our work in the coming period," he said.

Later in the day, coalition air strikes 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 air strikes shortly after.

In Oman, one of the countries where peace talks were held, Houthi negotiators said that Saudi forces were preventing them from returning to Yemen by blocking international flights to Sanaa's airport.

TRTWorld and agencies