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Houthis strike cosmopolitan Jeddah
SANAA, March 26, (Agencies): A Saudi-led coalition fighting Iranbacked Houthi rebels in Yemen unleashed a barrage of airstrikes on the capital and a strategic Red Sea city, officials said Saturday. At least eight people were killed. The overnight airstrikes on Sanaa and Hodeida – both held by the Houthis – came a day after the rebels attacked an oil depot in the Saudi city of Jeddah, their highest-profile assault yet on the kingdom. Brig. Gen. Turki al-Malki, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, said the strikes targeted “sources of threat” to Saudi Arabia, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency or SPA.
He said the coalition intercepted and destroyed two explosives laden drones early Saturday. He said the drones were launched from Houthi-held civilian oil facilities in Hodeida, urging civilians to stay away from oil facilities in the city. Footage circulated online showed flames and plumes of smoke over Sanaa and Hodeida. Associated Press journalists in the Yemeni capital heard loud explosions that rattled residential buildings there. The Houthis said the coalition airstrikes hit a power plant, a fuel supply station and the state run social insurance office in the capital. A Houthi media office claimed an airstrike hit houses for guards of the social insurance office in Sanaa’s Haddah neighborhood, killing at least eight people and wounding four others, including women and children.
The office shared images it said for the aftermath of the airstrike. It showed wreckage in the courtyard of a social insurance office with the shattered windows of a nearby multiple-story building. Hamoud Abbad, a local official with the Houthis in Sanaa, said the facility is located close to a building used by the U.N. agencies in the capital. He claimed that U.N. vehicles were seen leaving the area prior the the airstrikes. In Hodeida, the Houthi media office said the coalition hit oil facilities in violation of a 2018 cease-fire deal that ended months of fighting in Hodeida, which handles about 70% of Yemen’s commercial and humanitarian imports.
The strikes also hit the nearby Port Salif, also on the Red Sea. Al-Malki, the coalition spokesperson, said it targeted drones being prepared in Hodeida to be launched on the Kingdom. He accused the Houthis of using civilian infrastructure, such as Hodeida’s ports and the Sanaa airport, to launch attacks on Saudi oil facilities, according to SPA. Late Wednesday, coalition airstrikes rained on Houthi-held areas in Hodeida, al-Malki announced. No immediate casualties were reported. A U.N. mission overseeing the Hodeida deal voiced concern about the airstrikes and urged warring sides to “maintain the civilian nature of the ports and avoid damage to civilian infrastructure.”
“Once again we are seeing civilians bearing the brunt of this conflict which is just getting worse every year,” said Erin Hutchinson, Yemen director at the Norwegian Refugee Council, a charity working in Yemen. “This escalation is going to do nothing to elevate the hardships that millions are going through.” The escalation, which comes on the seventh anniversary of the Saudi-led coalition’s intervention in Yemen’s war, is likely to complicate efforts by the U.N. special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, to reach a humanitarian truce during the holy month of Ramadan” in early April.
The Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry on Friday vehemently decried the firing by Houthi militias of several booby-trapped drones towards Saudi southern, central and central regions, billing it a cowardly terrorist act. In a press statement, the ministry said this cowardly terrorist act does not only target civilians, civilian areas, Saudi security and regional stability, but it targets global energy supplies as well, at a time when the world seeks to ensure the continued flow of these supplies.
Accordingly, the international community should move immediately and resolutely in order to rein in these aggressions and bring the perpetrators to accountability, the ministry emphasized. It reiterated that the State of Kuwait stands side by side with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and upholds all measures it may take to protect its security, stability and sovereignty.