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Yemen

Heavy fighting in Sanaa ahead of youth march

Reuters/Yemen TV

Clashes between troops loyal to embattled Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and forces led by defected General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar broke out in Sanaa Thursday, reports say.

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Republican Guard forces, led by Saleh's son Ahmed were locked in a heavy exchange of fire Ahmar's First Armoured Division, which provides protection for anti-Saleh protesters, in the north of the city, witnesses said.

Earlier on Thursday, Saleh’s troops clashed with Ahmar tribesmen, whose leader Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar has sided with the protesters, in Al-Hasaba district.

Saleh, who is under international pressure to relinquish power and allow new elections, returned to the country on Friday, sparking a new spate of violence.

He has repeatedly refused to sign a power transfer deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) under which he would hand over to Vice-President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi in return for immunity from prosecution.

Hadi warned on Wednesday of civil war in the troubled country, in a meeting with the ambassadors of the permanent member states of the UN Security Council, the European Union and the GCC.

He said the current high level of tension "poses a direct threat to the general situation" in Yemen, the state news agency Saba reported.

"If the situation explodes, the [GCC] initiative would end, as well as all [proposed] peaceful solutions, and Yemen would enter the danger zone of descending into civil war," he said.

Youth groups plan to march on Thursday from their camp at Change Square in north Sanaa to the south of the city where Saleh's residence is situated.

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