Saudi-led coalition air strikes hit Yemen despite Houthi truce

Bulsha:- The Saudi-led coalition launched air strikes on Yemen on Sunday hours after Houthi rebels declared a three-day truce, as the United Nations chief condemned the escalation of violence as the war entered its eighth year.

The raids targeted Sanaa, the rebel-held capital, according to the Saudi Al-Ekhbariya channel, which tweeted, “The start of air strikes on Houthi camps and strongholds in Sanaa” around midnight.

The attacks began shortly after the Iran-backed Houthis declared a three-day truce and offered peace talks on the condition that the Saudis halt their airstrikes and blockade of Yemen and remove “foreign forces”.

Just a day earlier, rebels fired drones and missiles at 16 targets in Saudi Arabia, turning an oil plant near the Formula 1 track in Jeddah into a raging inferno as drivers panicked.

The spate of attacks and diplomacy came as Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, marks seven years since the Saudi-led intervention against the Houthis, who seized Sanaa in 2014.

The conflict has killed hundreds of thousands of people directly or indirectly and displaced millions, creating what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday condemned the sudden escalation of hostilities.

He said eight civilians, including five children and two women, were killed in retaliatory strikes on Sanaa following the rebel attacks on Friday.

His spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said in a statement that the UN staff compound in the city was also affected.

“The Secretary-General strongly condemns the recent escalation of the conflict in Yemen,” the statement said, adding that Guterres was “deeply concerned” about reports of coalition attacks on the port of Hodeidah.

He urged the warring parties to “immediately de-escalate” and reach a “negotiated settlement” with the help of Hans Grundberg, the United Nations special envoy to Yemen.

Thousands demonstrated in Sanaa on Saturday, carrying banners and chanting against the Saudi-led intervention that involved nine countries when it was launched on March 26, 2015.

Today, only Saudi Arabia, and to a lesser extent the United Arab Emirates, says it has withdrawn its forces from Yemen but remains an active player, training militias on the ground.

The coalition’s intervention halted the Houthis’ advance in the south and east of the country, but was unable to drive them out of the north, including Sanaa.

“Militarily, the war has reached a dead end,” Elizabeth Kendall, a researcher at Oxford University, told AFP this week.

She said Saudi Arabia “may be keen at this point to get itself out” of Yemen.


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