Saudi-led air strikes hit Yemen’s capital

Yemen’s capital sees heavy air strikes by Saudi-led coalition warplanes, strongest attack on city in over five months of conflict according to witnesses

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Smoke rises from a military base after it was hit by Saudi-led air strikes in Yemen's capital Sanaa, September 10, 2015

Updated Sep 11, 2015

Saudi-led coalition air strikes hit Yemen’s capital Sanaa on Thursday, targeting tbe houses of political leaders of the Iranian-backed Houthi militia along with military bases used by the group.

The constant heavy explosions pressured the city’s near to two million shell-shocked residents to evacuate many buildings, including hospitals, according to statements made by witnesses.

"The sick people fled the hospital in terror," an official at a private hospital said.

"They were afraid the building would collapse from the non-stop bombing of the army bases nearby," he continued.

Media reports stated that the Saudi-led coalition air strikes killed eight civilians, including a number of beekeepers, when targeting Houthi militants, according to Agence France Presse.

The coalition has intensified raids against Houthi militants and increased its deployment of troops since a deadly Houthi missile attack on Sept. 4 killed at least 60 Gulf troops in Marib Province east of Sanaa, in an attempt to eventually push the Houthis out of the capital.

Fear is spreading among residents that a decisive battle in the capital may cause widespread destruction, the same as which occurred in the southern city of Taiz, where 18 people were reported killed in an explosion in a residential area on Thursday alternatively blamed on Houthi attacks or Saudi-led air strikes.

Mohammed Saleh, a resident of Sanaa, said that he would not risk his or his family’s life as the bombing intensifies and troops advance.

"I've decided my family and I have to get out of Sanaa. There's nowhere left that's safe here, and neighbourhoods are getting bombed every single day," Saleh added.

Nine Arab countries joined forces and formed a coalition on March 26 in an attempt to carry out a military campaign against the Houthi militants.

The Houthi militants are allied with forces loyal to deposed President Ali Abbdullah Saleh and are backed by Iran with military equipment - including weapons - according to many of the Gulf countries, claims Tehran denies.

Yemen has been suffering from an ongoing civil war since President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi was deposed through a military coup by the Houthis in February, who have been exploiting the power vacuum in Yemen to their own benefit.

Eight hundred Egyptian soldiers along with tanks and transport vehicles have been recently deployed on Tuesday to fight in Yemen, according to Egyptian security sources.

“We have sent these forces as part of Egypt’s prominent role in this alliance ..the alliance fights for the sake of our brotherly Arab states, and the death of any Egyptian soldier would be an honour and considered martyrdom for the sake of innocent people,” a senior Egyptian military source said.

Troops from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar in Yemen are around 10,000 strong, according to a statement made by al Jazeera correspondent Abdul Mahsi al Sheikh reporting from southern Saudi Arabia.

Saudi-owned newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat quoted coalition sources as saying that about 6,000 Sudanese soldiers will soon be joining the battle inside Yemen against the Houthi militias, but the Sudanese government has not yet made any comments.

However, a source close to the Qatari military confirmed that Doha will be sending "mechanized infantry and armored vehicles" and that Sudan is committed to sending 6,000 troops.

"The operation in Sanaa will use extensive bombing, air power, to support the ground offensive," the source added.

TRTWorld and agencies