Air strikes on Yemen capital resume, civilians killed

Arab coalition fighter jets hit Yemen’s capital Sanaa for the first time in more than three months

Saudi-led military coalition conducts airstrikes on Sana''a
The strikes came after UN backed talks broke down over the weekend [Yahya Arhab/EPA]

A Saudi-led military coalition has conducted air strikes on the Yemeni capital Sanaa for the first time in more than three months and locals said that 14 civilians were killed in a factory.

Medics working in the area told the Reuters news agency that the civilians were killed in a strike on a crisp factory in the Nahda district of the capital.

The strikes also forced the suspension of flights into Sanaa International Airport for 72 hours from late on Monday.

READ MORE: Yemen peace talks in Kuwait end amid fighting

Coalition spokesman General Ahmed Assiri confirmed to the AFP news agency that the air strikes against Houthi rebels had restarted and led to the closure of Sanaa airport, saying fighter jets had hit military targets “around” the city.

Yemen: Government forces launch offensive as peace talks fail

The strikes came after UN-backed talks to end the conflict broke down over the weekend.

The Saudi-led coalition is backing Yemeni forces loyal to the exiled government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi who are trying to oust Iran-allied Houthi forces from Sanaa.

Strikes hit a presidential compound and a military base in the capital as well as a Republican Guard base in the Arhab area near the airport, according to reports. 

Pro-government forces are trying to advance into the city from the north and east.

The coalition was also blamed by residents for nine civilian deaths in an air strike outside the capital on Sunday, Reuters reported.  

Al-Qaeda losing ground

In a separate development, residents in Azzan in the southern Shabwa province said al-Qaeda fighters had dismantled their checkpoints and withdrawn from the city on Tuesday after air strikes, apparently by the Saudi-led coalition, targeted their positions there.

Al-Qaeda and similar groups took advantage of the fighting to seize control of much of southern Yemen, but have suffered military setbacks inflicted by coalition-backed local forces.

READ MORE: UN report: All sides flouting humanitarian law in Yemen

Yemen descended into chaos after the 2012 removal of longtime president Ali Abdullah Saleh, whose forces are now fighting alongside the Houthi fighters.

Security deteriorated further after the Houthis swept into Sanaa and pushed south, forcing Hadi’s government to flee into exile in March last year.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia formed a coalition of Arab states to fight the Houthis. The coalition now includes Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan and Senegal.

As of January 2016, 2,800 civilians had been killed by the fighting, with 8,100 casualties overall, according to the United Nations.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has  estimated that coalition air strikes caused almost two-thirds of reported civilian deaths, while the Houthis have been accused of causing mass civilian casualties due to a  siege  of Taiz, Yemen’s third-largest city.

Millions living with hunger in war-torn Yemen

Source: News Agencies