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Wednesday, September 21, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Yemen regime unleashes U.S.-trained forces
on opposition in Sanaa

CAIRO — After seven months of fighting, Yemen's regime has gone on the offensive.


The regime of exiled President Ali Abdullah Saleh has launched a military campaign against the opposition throughout the Sanaa region. The Saleh-controlled Republican Guard and Special Forces have attacked military defectors, including units loyal to Gen. Muhsin Al Ahmar, commander of the First Armored Division.

"In this tense situation, we call upon all parties to exercise restraint," the U.S. embassy in Sanaa said.

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In three days of fighting, more than 80 people were killed and 1,000 injured in Sanaa. The U.S.-trained Republican Guard and Special Forces, in the worst fighting in months, opened with artillery and mortar fire against Al Ahmar positions throughout the capital.

In response, thousands of pro-opposition fighters rushed and captured a Republican Guard base in Sanaa. Much of the fighting, in which Saleh troops fled, took place near the international airport in the city.

Opposition leaders said they refused Arab and Western offers to negotiate with the Saleh regime. They said Saleh, who has undergone medical treatment in Saudi Arabia, has withdrawn from three agreements to resign.

"We can't talk after all the bloodshed, the torn limbs and the killing of our people," Yemeni opposition spokesman Mohammed Al Sabri said. "Any talks would represent a collaboration in the crimes committed by the regime."

Despite his absence, the military remains controlled by Saleh's family. The president's son, Ahmed, commands both the Republican Guard and Special Forces, said to have expelled rebel units from an area in downtown Sanaa.

"After the clashes with the rebels, we found a large cache of rocket-propelled grenades and missiles," a Yemeni military source said.

Clashes between the Saleh military and the opposition were also reported in Aden and Taiz. Reports from those cities told of civilian resistance to the military operations.

"The Saleh regime is finished," opposition leader Abdul Hadi Al Azzai said.

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