27 Mar 2015

Military strikes in Yemen raise regional tensions

Saudi-led coalition warplanes continue to bomb rebel camps in Yemen, heightening tension among Middle East neighbours.

A second straight day of air strikes continued in Yemen as a months-long rebellion by Shiite fighters escalated into a regional conflict that threatens to tear the state apart.

Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia has vowed to do “whatever it takes” to prevent the fall of its ally, accusing Shiite Iran of “aggression” and of backing the Huthi rebels’ power grab.

At least 39 civilians have been killed in the Saudi-led Operation Decisive Storm against the Huthis and their allies, officials at the rebel-controlled health ministry in the capital said.

Twelve died when surrounding residential areas were hit in a raid on a military base north of the city, officials told AFP.

Crisis summit

Three dawn strikes on Friday hit the rebel-held presidential compound in south Sanaa, witnesses said.

Warplanes also bombed a Huthi-controlled army brigade in Amran province north of Sanaa, and arms depots in the northern rebel stronghold of Saada, residents said.

President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, backed by the west and Gulf Arab states, flew into Egypt for a weekend Arab League summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh set to be dominated by Yemen.

He had arrived in Riyadh Thursday in what was the first confirmation of his whereabouts since the rebels began advancing this week on the main southern city of Aden, where he had taken refuge since fleeing Sanaa last month.

Saudi Arabia says more than 10 countries, including four other Gulf monarchies, have joined the anti-Huthi coalition.