Former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh said today he was ready for a "new page" in relations with the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen if it stopped attacks on his country.

The call came as his supporters battled Houthi fighters for a fourth day in the capital Sanaa while both sides traded blame for a widening rift between allies that could affect the course of the civil war.

Together they have fought the Saudi-led coalition which intervened in Yemen in 2015 aiming to restore the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi after the Houthis forced him into exile.

The clashes between Mr Saleh's supporters and the Houthis underscore the complex situation in Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Middle East, where a proxy war between the Iran-aligned Houthis and the Saudi-backed Hadi has caused one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in recent times.

Houthi fighters Yemen
Houthi fighters man a checkpoint in Sanaa, Yemen, today

"I call upon the brothers in neighbouring states and the alliance to stop their aggression, lift the siege, open the airports and allow food aid and the saving of the wounded and we will turn a new page by virtue of our neighbourliness," Mr Saleh said in a televised speech.

"We will deal with them in a positive way and what happened to Yemen is enough," he added.

Mr Saleh, who was forced to step down by a 2011 mass uprising against his 33 years in office, said Yemen's parliament, which is dominated by his GPC party, was the only legitimate power in the country and was ready for talks with the coalition.

The Saudi-led coalition welcomed Mr Saleh's change of stance.

In a statement carried by the Saudi-owned Al-Hadath channel, the coalition said it was "confident of the will of the leaders and sons" of Saleh's General People's Congress (GPC) party to return to the Arab fold.

The coalition accuses non-Arab Iran of trying to expand its influence into Arab countries, including Yemen, which shares a border with Saudi Arabia, by aligning themselves with the Houthis and Mr Saleh.

The Houthis accused Mr Saleh of betrayal, and vowed to keep up the fight against the Saudi-led coalition.

"It is not strange or surprising that Saleh turns back on a partnership he never believed in," the group's political bureau said in a statement. "The priority has been and still is to confront the forces of aggression."

Residents of Sanaa described heavy fighting on the streets of Hadda, a southern residential district of the Yemeni capital where many of Mr Saleh's relatives live, early today, with sounds of explosions and gunfire heard while the streets were deserted.

The fighting eased in the afternoon as Mr Saleh's supporters gained the upper hand but intermittent gunfire was being heard.

There was no immediate word on casualties. Both sides have reported that at least 16 people were killed in the fighting, which began on Wednesday when armed Houthi fighters entered the main mosque complex, firing RPGs and grenades.

Yemen's civil war has killed more than 10,000 people since 2015, displaced more than two million people, caused a cholera outbreak infecting nearly one million people and put the country on the brink of famine.