Coalition Air Strikes Target Houthi Stronghold in Yemen (VIDEO)

Saudi-led forces bomb military bases controlled by the rebels as civilian death toll reportedly rises to 39

Warplanes from a coalition led by Saudi Arabia have bombed the stronghold of Yemen’s Houthi fighters with strikes targeting arms depots and a number of military camps controlled by the group.

Air raids early on Friday targeted Saada, the stronghold of the Houthis, and focused on locations along Yemen’s porous border with Saudi Arabia.

Sources told Al Jazeera the air raids struck arms depots in the Malaheez and Hafr Sufyan regions of Saada and an army camp used by Houthi fighters in Kitaf.

The air campaign also targeted the al-Sana army camp in the Arhab region northeast of Sanaa, run by commanders loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Tariq Air Base in Taiz, central Yemen; and the presidential compound in the south of the capital, which was seized by the Houthis last month.

Residents said explosions echoed throughout the capital, creating panic and hysteria.

“Whenever a plane flies over our home and is met by anti-aircraft gunfire, my three children run to a corner and start screaming and crying,” Mohammed al-Jabahi, a Sanaa resident told the Associated Press.

So far, at least 39 civilians have been killed in Operation Decisive Storm, officials at the rebel-controlled health ministry in the capital said.

Sanaa residents: ‘The war is really here’

Twelve of the victims died when surrounding residential areas were hit in a raid against a military base north of the capital, the officials told the AFP news agency. Amnesty International said six children were killed on Thursday.

The Saudi ambassador to the US, Adel al-Jubeir, said the coalition stood ready to do “whatever it takes” to protect the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Saudi Arabia and a coalition of more than 10 countries view the Houthis takeover as an attempt by Iran to strenghten its influence in the region.

Iran and the Houthis deny that Tehran arms the rebel movement, though it says it provides diplomatic and humanitarian support.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said in a statement on Friday that Tehran was “ready to cooperate with its brothers in the region, to make it easier for different groups in Yemen to have dialogue to protect the integrity and facilitate restoration of stability the security in that country.”

According to defence officials in Washington, the US is providing refuelling tankers and surveillance flights for the Saudi operations, and there are several US troops working in the operations center to help with coordination.

The White House has said the US was not joining with direct military action.

The Houthi leader, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, accused the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel of launching a “criminal, unjust, brutal and sinful” campaign aimed at invading and occupying Yemen.

“Yemenis won’t accept such humiliation,” he said in a televised speech on Thursday night, calling the Saudis “stupid” and “evil.”

Timeline: The rise of Yemen’s Houthi rebels

The spokesman of Operation Decisive Storm, Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri, swiftly denied claims that a ground assault was part of the current operation but said the Saudis and its allies were ready “to deter any aggression of any kind”.

Saudi Arabia has reportedly deployed about 100 fighter jets, and 150,000 soldiers are standing by near the Yemeni border.

In a seperate development, at least 21 Houthis were killed near the coastal city of Aden on Friday when an anti-Houthi militia targeted their vehicle.

Witnesses told the AFP news agency that a ‘Popular committee’ opened fire on the Houthis who were travelling from Lahj province towards Aden.

Popular committees operate across much of Yemen, often working alongside the military in defending state buildings from attack and manning checkpoints.

The Houthis, who belong to the Zaidi sect of Shia Islam, descended from their heartland in the country’s north last year, fighting their way south towards Sanaa and defeating tribal and military rivals along the way.

Earlier this year, they put Hadi, the elected president, under house arrest, and appointed Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a cousin of the group’s leader, as the new president.

Hadi, who left the country on Thursday, had struggled to reassert his authority since escaping house arrest and fleeing to Aden last month.

The group has repeatedly rejected accusations that it wants to restore a Zaydi imamate, a theocracy that lasted for nine centuries until 1962.


Reprinted with permission from Al Jazeera

Posted By: Keith

Writer, political junkie, rabid rock music fan, amateur gardener, astronomer and ornithologist, cook extraordinaire, sipper of fine wine and, more than once, the funniest guy in the room.

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