SANA’A, Jan 20, (AP): The Saudi-led coalition has launched a series of airstrikes against targets in Yemen’s rebel-held capital, including a military base and drones facility located at the city’s international airport. The airstrikes late Saturday were the first by the coalition in Sana’a since a deal reached last month between coalition-backed government and Iran-aligned rebels known as Houthis, which have been at war since 2014.
The deal provided for a cease-fire and a withdrawal of rival forces from the contested port city of Hodeida on the Red Sea as well as an exchange of prisoners, but the implementation has run into difficulties.
Earlier this month, a bomb-laden drone launched by the rebels targeted a military parade near the government- held city of Aden on the Arabian Sea, killing at least seven people, including the commander of military intelligence.
There was no more information immediately available on casualties or damage from Saturday’s airstrikes, which began late at night and continued until just before dawn on Sunday. The explosions from the airstrikes lit up the night sky and rocked homes across much of the city.
The coalition’s claim that the airstrikes hit a drones facility could not be immediately confirmed. Security officials said a food factory near the airport was hit, killing two workers, and a plastics factory elsewhere in the city was also targeted, starting a large fire.
They said the airstrikes also hit the former headquarters of the army’s 1st Armored Division and military repair workshops. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief media. News photographers who headed to the plastics factory Sunday morning were prevented by authorities from taking photos of the smoldering remains. Yemen was plunged into civil war in 2014, when rebels captured Sana’a.
The Saudi-led coalition entered the war on the side of the internationally-recognized government in March 2015. The war has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed the country to the brink of famine. UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock told the Security Council this month that the humanitarian situation has not improved since the Sweden agreement was reached and “remains catastrophic,” with 80 percent of Yemen’s population – over 24 million people – now in need of assistance. “They include nearly 10 million people just one step away from famine,” he said.