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Page last updated at 14:54 GMT, Saturday, 26 September 2009 15:54 UK

Yemen to fight rebels for 'years'

Yemeni tanks are seen in Saada province, August 2009
The two sides have been fighting for five years

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has said the government is ready to fight Shia rebels in the north of the country for five or six years if necessary.

Speaking at a ceremony to mark the 47th anniversary of the overthrow of a Shia Muslim state, Mr Saleh urged the rebels to accept a ceasefire.

The rebels accuse the government of breaching a recent truce.

Hundreds have died in a recent flare-up in the five-year conflict, which has left 150,000 people displaced.

Yemen map

International concern about the conflict has intensified after witnesses said that more than 80 people were killed in a government air raid on a camp for displaced people on 16 September.

The government offered two ceasefires, but fighting resumed within hours of each.

Dozens more people were reported killed in Saada and Amran provinces on Thursday.

The rebels, known as Houthis, complain of discrimination. They say they want greater autonomy and a greater role for their version of Shia Islam.

Both sides see unwelcome influences from abroad, with the government accusing rebels of having Iranian backing and being accused itself of being influenced by Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia.



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