Published: Jun 11, 2011 8:56 PM EDT
Updated: Jun 11, 2011 8:56 PM EDT

SANAA, Yemen (AP) - Yemen's Defense Ministry says clashes today between soldiers and Islamic militants have killed a total of 40 people from both sides.
 
The soldiers are trying to drive the militants from several southern towns.
 
One military commander leading today's campaign is one of several top military figures who've turned against Yemen's president and are now calling for his ouster.
 
The commanders accuse President Ali Abdullah Saleh of trying to sow chaos and letting the southern towns fall into the hands of Islamic militants in an effort to persuade the U.S. and other Western powers that without him in charge, al-Qaida would take control of the country.
 
Saleh is in Saudi Arabia for medical treatment but refuses to step down.