Heavy Airstrikes Target Yemeni Capital as Sectarian Strife Escalates

Hani Mohammed, AP
Hani Mohammed, AP

Fighter jets belonging to a Saudi-led coalition launched strikes against Houthi military targets in Yemen on Tuesday, just one day after a five-day truce between the two parties expired.

The jets struck Houthi missile sites on Faj Attan mountain, located on the western end of the Yemeni capital city of Sanaa, much of which is now controlled by the Iran-backed group, locals told Xinhua.

The Associated Press described the new bombing runs as the “heaviest airstrikes near the Yemeni capital” since the expiration of the truce.

The Houthi militants near Sanaa are believed to be in possession of a stockpile of missiles, along with tanks and artillery, residents told the AP.

Airstrikes also reportedly destroyed the house of pro-Houthi former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, whose loyalists recently threw their weight behind the Houthis. The Saleh-Houthi alliance has been described as crucial to the Houthis’ success in overtaking Sanaa.

Houthi fighters responded to the attacks by firing Katyusha into the Saudi side of the border region of Najran, locals told the AP.

United Nations special envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed has pleaded with both parties to agree to a long-term humanitarian truce. While at a conference in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, he hoped that a truce could turn into a permanent ceasefire with a political solution attached. The five-day initial ceasefire was brokered to allow the United Nations to deliver much-needed humanitarian aid to the war-torn country.

But even the five-day ceasefire was rife with accusations from both sides that their enemy had violated the measure. On Sunday, fighting broke out in the southern province of Taiz, killing over a dozen.

The Saudi-led coalition, which has garnered the support of nine countries, has been targeting Houthi positions since March 26, in hopes of restoring the government led by Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, the internationally recognized President of Yemen. Hadi, a Sunni, was forced to flee Yemen as the Houthi insurgency took over the government by force.

Since the clashes began between the Houthis and pro-Hadi forces, the conflict has resulted in the deaths of 1,800 and has wounded over 7,000. Tens-of-thousands more have been displaced as a result of the war.