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SANAA, Yemen — Rebels seized Yemen's presidential palace after clashing with the compound's security guards, witnesses and security sources told Reuters on Tuesday, a day after some of the worst battles in the capital in years. Guards at the palace housing the main office of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi said they handed over the compound to the Shiite Houthi fighters after a brief clash. Witnesses said they saw the Houthi forces seize armored vehicles that had been guarding the entrances to the palace.
A short while later, the president's residence came under fire from "militias seeking to overthrow the ruling system," the country's information minister, Nadia al-Saqqaf, said on Twitter. The Houthis on Monday fought artillery battles with the army near the presidential palace, and surrounded the prime minister's residence. Nine people were killed and 90 wounded before a ceasefire came into force on Monday evening.
The Houthis are seen by their critics as a proxy of Shiite Iran — charges they deny — and are believed to be allied with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, ousted in a 2012 deal after Arab Spring protests. They have vowed to eradicate al Qaeda, but are also hostile to the U.S. Their slogan is "Death to Israel. Death to America."
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