Yemen capital rattled as fighting spreads

A wave of air raids rattled Yemen's crisis-hit capital yesterday, witnesses said, as clashes between rebels and supporters of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh also spread beyond Sanaa.



Tuesday, December 05, 2017

A wave of air raids rattled Yemen's crisis-hit capital yesterday, witnesses said, as clashes between rebels and supporters of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh also spread beyond Sanaa.

The fighting erupted Wednesday night, after which the strikes appeared to hit targets near Sanaa International Airport and the interior ministry, both under the control of the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, according to residents and an airport source.

A military coalition led by Saudi Arabia, Iran's regional arch-rival, is the only party in the Yemen war known to conduct air strikes on Sanaa.

Residents near the airport said multiple air raids had shaken their homes late Sunday night and in the early hours of yesterday.

The airport source said rebel bases near the location appeared to have been targeted but the airport itself had not been bombed.

Residents also reported that the fighting had spread outside the capital, such as in Saleh's hometown Sanhan, south of Sanaa.

In the capital, such clashes had killed some 60 people as of Sunday.

Yemeni territory is split between the forces and government of Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi in the south and the northern Huthi rebels and forces loyal to strongman Saleh. Saudi Arabia backs Hadi.

Since 2014, Sanaa has been ruled under an agreement between Saleh and the Houthis, who drove the Hadi government out of the capital, set up their own and for two years together fought the Saudi-led coalition.

Saleh on Saturday announced he was open to talks with Saudi Arabia and its allies on condition they ended their blockade on Yemen's ports and airports. This dealt a serious blow to his already fragile alliance with rebel chief Abdul Malik al-Huthi.

The Saleh-Huthi split has sparked fears of a new front in the Yemen war that has pushed the country to the brink of mass starvation and triggered what the United Nations has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE