Saudi-led coalition carry out strikes against Yemen's Houthis

The coalition carried out 11 strikes on the capital in all, among 19 across Houthi-held territory, the rebels' Al-Masirah television reported.
Thursday 16/05/2019
In this frame grab from from video, people search in the rubble following Saudi-led coalition airstrikes that killed at least six, including children, officials said, in the residential center of the capital, Sanaa, Yemen, May 16, 2019. (AFP)
In this frame grab from from video, people search in the rubble following Saudi-led coalition airstrikes that killed at least six, including children, officials said, in the residential center of the capital, Sanaa, Yemen, May 16, 2019. (AFP)

Saudi-led coalition warplanes bombed Yemeni rebel targets including in the capital on Thursday following drone strikes by the Iran-backed Houthis against Saudi oil installations on May 14.

The Saudi deputy defence minister warned that Tuesday's attack by Houthi rebels on a major pipeline in the kingdom proved that "these militias are merely a tool that Iran's regime uses to implement its expansionist agenda in the region."

The Saudi-led coalition, which has been battling the Houthi rebels since March 2015, confirmed that its warplanes were carrying out multiple strikes across rebel-held territory.

"We have begun to launch air strikes targeting sites operated by the Houthi militia, including in Sana'a," a coalition official, who declined to be identified, told AFP.

A strike on one Sana'a neighbourhood killed at least six people and wounded 10, Dr Mokhtar Mohammed of the capital's Republic Hospital told AFP.

The coalition carried out 11 strikes on the capital in all, among 19 across rebel-held territory, the rebels' Al-Masirah television reported.

The Houthi drone strikes further raised tensions in the region after the mysterious sabotage of several oil tankers and the US deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers to the Gulf over alleged threats from Iran. US officials told Reuters Yemeni or Iraqi pro-Iran groups could be behind the acts of sabotage against the vessels.

Saudi Arabia's deputy defence minister, Khalid bin Salman, charged the pipeline attack was carried out on Iranian orders.

"The attack by the Iranian-backed Houthi militias against the two Aramco pumping stations proves that these militias are merely a tool that Iran's regime uses to implement its expansionist agenda in the region," the prince said on Twitter.

Key ally the United Arab Emirates warned of reprisals.

"We will retaliate and we will retaliate hard when we see Houthis hitting civilian targets like what happened in Saudi Arabia," the UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in Yemen when President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi fled into Saudi exile as the rebels closed in on his last refuge in Yemen's second city Aden after sweeping through most of the rest of the country.

The intervention has retaken much of the south but the capital and most of the populous central highlands remain in rebel hands.

A grinding war of attrition has set in with third city Taez and the vital Red Sea aid port of Hodeida turned into battlegrounds.

In December, UN mediators brokered hard-won truce deals for both cities during talks in Sweden but the hoped for momentum for talks on a comprehensive peace has failed to materialise.

UN envoy Martin Griffiths welcomed the pullback, but warned the Security Council on Wednesday that the risks of a slide into all-out war remained high.

"There are signs of hope," he said, but there are also "alarming signs" of war.

More than four years of conflict has triggered what the UN describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with 24.1 million -- more than two-thirds of the population -- in need of aid.

"We are at a tipping point," warned the head of UN children's agency UNICEF.

"If the war continues any longer, the country may move past the point of no return," Henrietta Fore said

(Reuters)