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Airstrikes pound Yemen's capital

March 30, 2015

A Saudi-led coalition has continued a campaign of airstrikes against Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen for a fifth day running. Many of the latest strikes are reported to have hit targets in and around Sanaa.

Kämpfe im Jemen
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Yahya Arhab

News agencies on Monday cited witnesses and correspondents in Sanaa, who said that the air strikes on Yemen's capital had gone on for much of the night.

"It was a night from hell," the Reuters news agency quoted an unnamed Yemeni diplomat as saying. The witness said some of the strikes appeared to target weapons depots believed to be housed in mountains near the city, which is under the control of Shiite Muslim Houthi rebels fighting to overthrow Yemen's internationally recognized president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

The AFP news agency cited one of its correspondents who said the latest bombardment began at about 9 p.m. local time (18:00 UTC) on Sunday evening and continued until around dawn on Monday. It also cited witnesses who said a Republican Guard camp in the south of the city had been hit.

AFP also quoted local officials and residents who said that radar facilities and surface-to-air missile batteries in Marib, east of Sanaa, were hit along with anti-aircraft installation in the port of Hodeida in the west of the country.

Coalition of the willing

Sunni Saudi Arabia and several regional allies, which launched the aerial campaign against the rebels last Thursday, have vowed to continue the airstrikes until the Houthis "withdraw and surrender their weapons."

This pledge was reiterated at the Arab League summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh at the weekend, during which the regional bloc also agreed in principle to form a pan-Arab military force to respond to crises such as the one in Yemen.

Despite the air strikes against them, the Houthis appeared to be continuing to advance on the southern port of Aden, from where the Saudi Royal Navy evacuated dozens of diplomats including Saudis at the weekend. The United Nations also announced that it was pulling out its staff from Yemen due to the deteriorating security situation.

Among those fighting alongside the Houthis are forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who stepped down three years ago after months of violent protests against his rule. The rebels are widely understood to be backed by Shiite power Iran, but both the Houthis and Iran have denied this.

pfd/lw (AFP, Reuters)