Yemen's foreign minister says President Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi has asked neighboring Gulf countries for military intervention to thwart the Shiite rebel power grab.
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Riad Yassin says Hadi has also asked the United Nations to impose a no-fly zone so that the rebels known as Houthis, who he says are backed by Iran, cannot use the airports they seized.
Yassin spoke to Saudi-owned Al-Hadath TV Monday. He says that "time is not on our side."
The Houthis seized control of the capital, Sanaa, last September, along with several northern provinces. Hadi, who fled from house arrest in Sanaa last month, has set up a power base in the southern port city of Aden.
The Houthis and allies from supporters of ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh are now advancing toward the south.
A purported affiliate of the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the mass killing of 29 soldiers last week in a southern city taken over by the country's local al-Qaida branch.
They made the claim Monday on a Twitter account known to be associated with the militants, who previously claimed responsibility for suicide bombings Friday in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, that killed 137 people. U.S. officials have been skeptical about whether the militants have direct links to the Islamic State group.
Al-Qaida in Arabian Peninsula took over the city of al-Houta on Friday before being pushed out by Yemeni forces. Al-Qaida militants had not claimed the soldiers' killing in al-Houta.
The chaos comes as the country's embattled president faces a Shiite rebel insurrection.