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The United Nations Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution that demands that Houthi rebels immediately relinquish control of Yemen's government.

Arab countries have been pressing for the use of military force against what they call the rebel group's "illegitimate seizure of power".

But the resolution approved at an emergency council meeting on Sunday evening does not act under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which would allow it to be militarily enforced.

The resolution demands that the Houthi rebels "immediately and unconditionally" withdraw forces from government institutions.

However, Mohammed Abdulsalam, a Houthi spokesman, said ahead of the adoption of the resolution that the group would not "cede power in the face of threats".

The resolution also demands that the Houthis release US-backed President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and his cabinet from house arrest and engage "in good faith" in UN-led peace talks.

The Houthis, who have controlled the capital since September last year, dissolved parliament on February 6 and replaced the president with Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a cousin of Houthi leader, Abdel-Malik al-Houthi.

The Houthis hail from the northern region of Saada and champion the interests of the Zaidi community, who make up a fifth of Yemen's 25 million population.

Al-Qaeda threat

The takeover has raised alarms that the world's most active branch of al-Qaeda, based in Yemen, would use the chaos to its advantage.

Sunday's resolution called on UN member states to "refrain from external interference which seeks to foment conflict and instability".

Yemeni officials say Saudi Arabia was sending arms and funds to tribesmen in Yemen's Marib province to bolster them against the Houthi rebels.

Saudi Arabia, which shares its southern border with Yemen, has not commented on the claims it is arming or funding tribesmen there to fight the Shia rebels.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies