Saudi Arabia says leading Houthi rebels killed in strike | News | DW | 28.04.2018
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Saudi Arabia says leading Houthi rebels killed in strike

A strike by the Saudi-led alliance has killed dozens of Houthi rebels in Yemen, including two commanders, Saudi media report. Houthi rebels lost one of their top leaders in an attack last week.

The military coalition of Sunni allies led by Saudi Arabia has carried out an overnight strike on the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, killing at least 38 Houthi rebels, including two of their commanders, Saudi media said Saturday.

Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television reported that the airstrike hit the rebel-controlled Interior Ministry headquarters during a meeting of the rebel group's senior leaders.

The Houthis have confirmed that an overnight attack took place but gave no details on casualties.

The strike came hours before the Houthis staged a public funeral in Sanaa for Saleh al-Samad, a senior leader, who was killed on April 19 in an aerial attack claimed by the Saudis and their allies, this time in Yemen's coastal province of Hodeida.

Saleh Al-Samad (Getty Images/AFP/M. Huwais)

Samad was killed last Thursday

Shortly after the funeral began, the rebels said they had launched eight ballistic missiles at "economic and vital targets" in Saudi Arabia's Jizan province. Saudi Arabia said it had intercepted four missiles and that one man had been killed by debris.

The Houthis have stepped up their missile attacks on Saudi Arabia this year, with just one casualty reported until now.

Read more: Why are EU countries reluctant to intervene in Yemen's war? 

Long and deadly conflict

The attacks came as newly appointed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was scheduled to arrive in Riyadh for talks that are expected to include discussion of the conflict in Yemen, in which nearly 10,000 people have been killed since the Saudi-led alliance became involved.

The war has its roots in the Houthi takeover of Sanaa in late 2014, which forced the Saudi-backed government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi into exile in the southern city of Aden.

The Saudi-led alliance entered the war with an air campaign after the rebels advanced on the temporary seat of the government in Aden. Its campaign has come under widespread criticism for worsening the plight of Yemeni civilians already suffering under poor humanitarian conditions.

The coalition has denied ever targeting civilians.

Ruins in Sanaa (picture-alliance/dpa/Xinhua/M. Dhari)

Saudi-led airstrikes have caused considerable destruction in Sanaa and other cities

Saudi Arabia fears its regional archrival, Iran, is backing the Houthis in a bid to gain a strategic foothold on the Arabian Peninsula, a view shared by Washington.

Tehran has blamed Saudi Arabia for the war, which has unleashed what has been described by the United Nations as the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with the country now on the brink of famine.

Read more: Yemen's war explained in 4 key points

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tj/jm (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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