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Saudi-led coalition announces end to air operation in Yemen

According to Saudi state TV, the Saudi-led coalition has announced an end its military operation in Yemen. In a statement, the coalition said that the focus would now be on security, counter-terrorism and aid.

The coalition of Sunni Arab nations led by Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday that it would end its military operation in Yemen at midnight, according to Saudi-owned Arabiya TV.

Having achieved its military goals, the coalition said in a statement that operations would now enter the "political phase" and focus on security, counter-terrorism, aid and the search for a political solution in Yemen. The military campaign would be replaced by a new operation called Restore Hope.

The Saudi Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that airstrikes had managed "to successfully remove threats to Saudi Arabia's security and that of neighboring countries."

The coalition "ended Operation Decisive Storm based on a request by the Yemeni government and President Hadi," its spokesman, Brigadier General Ahmed al-Assiri, told a press briefing in the Saudi capital. He added that the coalition would continue to impose a naval blockade on Yemen and target any movements by Houthi rebel forces.

The airstrikes began on March 26, after the Shiite Houthi rebels forced Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to flee the country.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated the latest death toll from fighting in Yemen to be at 944. The UN health agency warned that Yemen's health care services were on the brink of collapse, with life-saving medicines and key medical supplies running out.

The impoverished country on the Arab peninsula was plunged into chaos last year when Shiite Houthi rebels seized the capital, Sanaa.

das/rc (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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