Fierce fighting has been raging between Yemen's rival factions in the south of the country a day after Ali Abdullah Saleh, the former president, urged his allies to withdraw from the areas they have captured.

The factions are trying to gain more ground in Dar Saad, a district near the southern port city of Aden. Fresh fighting around the southern city of Aden has left at least 28 people dead.

Saleh, who still holds sway over army units allied with Houthi fighters who now control large expanses of the country, had welcomed this month's Security Council resolution as a way to "stop bloodshed" in Yemen.

In a statement read on his Yemen Today television channel, Saleh said: "I call on [the Houthis] to accept all UN Security Council decisions and to implement them in return for a halt in the coalition forces' aggression."

More than 1,000 people have been killed in the fighting since late March, according to the UN, which said on Friday that at least 115 children were among the dead.

 

The conflict has escalated tensions between Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran, which backs the Houthis, raising fears that Yemen has become a new front in a proxy war between Middle East powers.

"I urge them and everyone - militias and al-Qaeda as well as militias loyal to [President Abd-Rabbu Mansour] Hadi - to withdraw from all provinces, especially Aden."

The Saudi-led coalition, which began an air war on Houthi fighters and their allies on March 26, announced an end to that campaign on Tuesday in favour of seeking a political solution, but the air strikes have continued.

Saleh, who still heads the influential General People's Congress party, called for UN-brokered Saudi-Yemeni talks to be held in Geneva.

Political solution

With international pressure mounting for a political solution, Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, has announced plans to appoint Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, a Mauritanian diplomat, as his new envoy to Yemen.

The Houthis swept into Sanaa in September from their northern stronghold and then advanced south on the major port of Aden, forcing Hadi to flee to the Saudi capital Riyadh last month.

Restoring hope in Yemen?

Meanwhile, Saudi-led coalition air strikes have continued unabated.

Fighter jets hit a camp housing Houthis in the third city Taez on Friday, residents said, after a night of clashes and raids throughout the country.

Aden also came under coalition fire as clashes between Hadi's supporters and Houthi fighters raged until dawn, pro-government forces said.

Residents in the eastern province of Marib also reported overnight air strikes and clashes between local tribesmen and Houthis.

At least four pro-Hadi fighters and six Houthi fighters were killed in dawn clashes in the town of Daleh, north of the main southern city of Aden, an official said.

Eight more Houthis were killed in an ambush.

 

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies