Yemeni rebel minister flees Sanaa, defects to Saudi Arabia

CAIRO (AP) — The information minister of Yemen’s internationally recognized government says his counterpart in the rebel administration has fled the country and defected to neighboring Saudi Arabia.

Moammer al-Iryani said Saturday that his rebel counterpart, Abdul-Salam Ali Gaber, arrived in Saudi Arabia with his family after they fled Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, which has been under rebel control since 2014.

Gaber is the most senior member of the Houthi administration to defect since civil war broke out in 2014, dealing a blow to the rebels’ image as they battle an offensive by a Saudi-led coalition to retake the key Red Sea port city of Hodeida.

The coalition has been fighting the Houthis on the side of the government and its allies since 2015.

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