Latest violence has exposed Yemen’s vulnerability – endemic poverty, poor governance, and dwindling resources.
Warplanes from the coalition led by Saudi Arabia has bombed the residence of Ali Abdullah Saleh in the capital, Sanaa, but Yemen’s former president is believed to be safe, witnesses have said.
Three air strikes hit Saleh’s residence early on Sunday morning, but the president and his family are “well”, Yemeni news agency Khabar said, according to the Reuters news agency.
Plumes of smoke were seen rising from the area in the latest strike in Sanaa following a night of intensive air raids against rebel positions after rebels shelled Saudi border town on Thursday.
Saleh, who stepped down in 2012 following a year of deadly nationwide protests against his three-decade rule, is accused of siding with Houthi fighters who ousted UN-backed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in February.
Air strikes against the Houthis and fighters allied to Saleh have been carried out by a coalition of Arab nations since March 26.
Saleh’s residence was targeted on Sunday as Houthi fighters said in a statement they would deal “positively” with any efforts to lift the suffering of the Yemeni people, a sign that they will accept a five-day humanitarian ceasefire proposed by Saudi Arabia. It is not known, however, if the latest strikes will affect that position.
Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Vall, reporting from Saudi capital, Riyadh, said that a Houthi foreign affairs spokesman had indicated on social media that the rebels may accept the truce, if it was “real and serious”.
“We still wait for more confirmation from the Houthi side – more official confirmation,” our correspondent said.
“For the first time since the Saudis offered the truce, these are signs that [the Houthis] might be thinking of accepting the truce.”
The latest strikes in the capital also came after the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen said that the coalition’s recent air strikes on Saada city in Yemen are in breach of international law.
“The indiscriminate bombing of populated areas, with or without prior warning, is in contravention of international humanitarian law,” Johannes van der Klaauw said in a statement on Saturday.
“Many civilians are effectively trapped in Saada as they are unable to access transport because of the fuel shortage. The targeting of an entire governorate will put countless civilians at risk,” van der Klaauw said.
The coalition said on Saturday it had hit Yemen with 130 air strikes over the previous 24 hours.
It had called on civilians to evacuate Saada, the city in northern Yemen where support for Houthi rebels is strongest, before the bombing but it was unclear how they could leave.
Houthi leadership targeted
The air strikes targeted bases of Houthi leaders across Saada and Hajja provinces, said Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri, as well as hitting tanks and other military vehicles.
Missiles also pounded rebel chief Abdul-Malik al-Houthi’s hometown of Marran, and nearby Baqim, Al-Masirah television reported.
Other strikes targeted Sanaa airport’s runway, a Yemeni official there said, and Houthi targets in the al-Sadda district of Ibb in central Yemen, residents there said.
In the southern port city of Aden, clashes continued on Friday and Saturday in the central Crater, Khor Maksar and Mualla districts as the Houthis and forces loyal to Saleh shelled local militias trying to oust them from the city.