Yemen's civil war, pitting the Iran-allied Houthis who control Sana'a against a Saudi-led military alliance backing a government based in the south, has led to one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, with the United Nations warning of a potential starvation that could threaten the lives of millions.
Saleh, who ruled Yemen with an iron fist for three decades until 2012, had joined forces with the Shiite Huthi rebels three years ago when they took control of large parts of the Arabian Peninsula country including the capital Sanaa.
A video circulating on social media showed fully-veiled women chanting "The people want the martyr's body". The Arab League's general secretariat condemned the Iran-aligned Houthi movement which killed Saleh as a "terrorist organisation" and demanded that the worldwide community view it as such.
The fighting was triggered by power struggles within the rebel camp, which has been at war since March 2015 with a Saudi-led coalition backing the internationally recognized government.
"I am going to fight the enemies of the humanity and the enemies of our homeland who are trying hard to erase its identity and destroy its gains and humiliate the Yemenis", said Major General Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's ambassador to the UAE and the former commander of the Republican Guard.
A military source said the Huthis stopped their four-car convoy about 40 kilometres south of Sanaa and shot dead Saleh and two other senior GPC officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals.
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Military and government sources said the army would advance on Sanaa from the east and northeast, with at least seven battalions ordered to move forward.
In a televised speech, Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi called on Yemenis to rise up against the Iran-aligned Houthis.
Fighting against Tehran-backed Houthis not only defends Saudi borders, but also defends all Arab countries, in the face of Iranian expansionist ambitions.
The proxy war between regional arch-rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran has already killed more than 10,000 people, with more than 2 million displaced.
Jamie McGoldrick of United Nations aid agency OCHA says civilians in Sanaa are "emerging from their houses after five days being locked down, basically prisoners", to seek safety, medical care, fresh water and other survival needs.
"Aid workers can't travel and implement critical life- saving programmes".
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