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Yemen: Saudi coalition conducts airstrikes on Sanaa airport

December 20, 2021

Civilians and UN agencies were asked to leave the airport, which is controlled by the Iran-backed Houthi movement. It's still unclear whether the strikes caused any damage or casualties.

A Royal Saudi Air Force jet
Saudi Arabia has been intervening in Yemen's war since 2015Image: Rob Edgcumbe/StockTrek Images/imago images

A military coalition led by Saudi Arabia carried out airstrikes Monday which targeted Sanaa International Airport in Yemen, according to Saudi-owned broadcaster Al Arabiya.

What do we know so far?

The coalition said the "strikes" targeted "legitimate military targets" in the airport, and claimed that the airport's facilities are used to launch cross-border attacks.

The coalition urged all civilians and UN aid workers to evacuate the area before carrying out the strikes, Al Arabiya claimed.

The damage caused by the strikes on the airport is still unclear. There is also not yet any available information about casualties caused by the strikes.

Saudi coalition spokesperson Turki al-Maliki said six sites were targeted by the coalition, adding that "destroying these targets will not have any effect on the operational capacity of the airport."

The coalition said earlier on Sunday that it destroyed a drone launched from the airport which was aimed at Saudi territory. 

The airport in the Yemeni capital is controlled by the Iran-backed Houthi movement, a rival of Saudi Arabia. The Houthis have frequently shot rockets at Saudi Arabia in recent years, although they often do little damage.

Houthi 'government': War won't stop until Saudis quit Yemen

Yemen faces world's worst humanitarian crisis

The airport has been previously used for humanitarian aid flights under the auspices of the UN. Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab World, faces the world's worst humanitarian crisis since it became engulfed in civil war in 2014.

The Houthis have controlled Sanaa since September 2014. Saudi Arabia intervened in the war in 2015 to fight the militias, fearing their gains would help Iran get a larger foothold in the region. 

Saudi Arabia and Iran cut off ties in 2016, but representatives from the two Middle Eastern countries have held talks in recent months to mend their contentious relationship. 

wd/aw (Reuters, dpa)