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Rival forces clash in Yemen capital: witnesses - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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An anti-government protester shouts slogans during a demonstration to demand the ouster of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa. (R)

An anti-government protester shouts slogans during a demonstration to demand the ouster of Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa. (R)

Sanaa, (AFP)- Fierce clashes erupted in the Yemeni capital between troops loyal to embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh and forces led by defected General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, according to witnesses.

The firefights broke out in the north of the city between forces from the elite Republican Guard, led by Saleh’s son Ahmed, and soldiers from Ahmar’s First Armoured Division, which provides protection for anti-Saleh protesters.

Republican Guard forces based in Amran Street were locked in a heavy exchange of fire with dissident troops deployed in Thalathine Street near Change Square where protesters demanding Saleh’s ouster have camped for months, witnesses said.

Earlier on Thursday, loyalist troops clashed with Ahmar tribesmen in Al-Hasaba, in renewed fighting with the influential tribe whose leader Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar has sided with the protesters.

Saleh, who is under international pressure to relinquish power and allow new elections, returned to the country on Friday, sparking violence in which scores of people have been killed.

The 69-year-old president has repeatedly refused to sign a power transfer deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council under which he would hand over to Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi in return for immunity from prosecution.

Youth groups said they plan to march Thursday from their encampment at Change Square in north Sanaa to the south of the city which hosts Saleh’s residence.

“There will be an escalation during the coming two days. The youths will march… to Hedda Street, where the president’s residence is,” Walid al-Amari, a leading activist from the youth revolution committee, told AFP.

He said protesters wanted to march peacefully and have asked the leadership of the defected First Armoured Division not to provide any armed protection that could provoke Saleh loyalists.

“We have asked the troops of the First Division not to accompany us,” he said.

Defected army soldiers stand on a military vehicle as they escort anti-government protesters during a demonstration to demand the ouster of Yemen's Saleh in Sanaa. (R)

Defected army soldiers stand on a military vehicle as they escort anti-government protesters during a demonstration to demand the ouster of Yemen’s Saleh in Sanaa. (R)

Women display their hands which are painted red and blue during a demonstration demanding the ouster of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa. (R)

Women display their hands which are painted red and blue during a demonstration demanding the ouster of Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa. (R)

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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