Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed

Coalition air strikes hammered Houthi positions in an apparent bid to shore up Saleh's forces, witnesses said.

He also called for a joint ceasefire between his supporters and Houthi rebels, and the Saudi-led coalition, which has been bombing the impoverished country since March 2015 to get rid of the Iranian-backed rebels.

The death of a leader who played a significant role in Yemeni politics is stunning, but experts say Saleh's death won't change the face of the conflict significantly.

However, in a speech late on Sunday, the day before his assasination, Saleh formally annulled his alliance with the Houthis and pledged to step up his fight.

Ali Abdullah Saleh resigned from the presidency of the nation in 2012 after the Arab Spring, but has recently come back to the fore after rebels ousted in predecessor three years later.

The Saudi-led air campaign, backed by US and other Western arms and intelligence, has killed hundreds of civilians but has failed to secure the coalition any major gains in the almost three-year-old campaign to restore Yemen's internationally recognised president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, to power. The following day the Houthis began to dramatically reverse the Saleh loyalists' gains, however.

An extremely graphic video allegedly showing the corpse of Ali Abdullah Saleh has surfaced on social media.

Houthi leader Abdul Malik Al Houthi, meanwhile, hailed the death of his former ally, congratulating Yemenis "on this historic, exceptional and great day in which the conspiracy of betrayal and treason failed".

In 2014, his forces allied with the Houthis despite the fact that as president he had gone to war with them on more than one occasion.

The coalition will either have to continue waging a grinding war, possibly trying big offensives against Houthi-held areas at the risk of high civilian casualties, or offer compromises to bring the powerful Houthis to the negotiating table.

Saleh's son has reportedly been injured and captured by the Houthis, while Yasir Awadi, the deputy chair of Saleh's party dubbed General People's Congress, was killed like the former president.

Earlier on Monday, Abdullah Saleh, a resident living in Sanaa's southern Al Sabaeen district, said the Houthis had stormed the homes of numerous Saleh loyalists in the nearby neighbourhoods of Hadah and Beet Bous and besieged the homes of sheikhs close to the former president. Saudi Arabia views the Houthis as an Iranian proxy on its doorstep, and the rivalry between the two regional powers has amplified the conflict.

He said they had targeted several media outlets affiliated with the former president, including the television channel for which he works, Yemen Today, which was owned by Saleh. The Houthis appeared to be targeting the homes of Saleh's family, political allies and commanders in this most recent round of fighting.

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