Saudi-led Air Strikes Hit Yemen Rebels

Warplanes from the Saudi-led coalition struck Saturday rebel positions in Yemen as warring parties from the impoverished nation prepared for U.N.-sponsored Swiss talks, witnesses said. 

Air raids targeted Shiite Huthi rebels in the central province of Dhamar, as well as air defense positions of allied troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, witnesses said.

Rebel positions in their northern Saada stronghold were also hit, they added.

A wave of intensive overnight air strikes targeted arms depots around the capital and residences of people close to Saleh, including his brother's home, south of Sanaa, witnesses said.

Saudi Arabia launched the air war on March 26, as the rebels and their allies among forces loyal to Saleh advanced on President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's refuge in the southern city of Aden.

Hadi had fled the capital, which the rebels seized unopposed in September, and was rushed to safety in Saudi Arabia as the Huthis closed in on Aden.

Clashes continued Saturday in the port city of Aden, as well as in nearby Daleh, and in the provinces of Shabwa and Abyan, where southern fighters allied with Hadi have been fighting advancing rebels.

The exiled government said its delegation flew Saturday to Geneva for the UN talks due to open on Monday.

The talks had been scheduled to start Sunday but the United Nations said they would be delayed by a day due to "unforeseen circumstances".

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said the talks were aimed at securing a ceasefire, agreeing on a withdrawal plan for the Huthis and stepping up humanitarian aid deliveries.

A five-day truce last month allowed aid agencies to reach civilians caught in the fighting but U.N. efforts to prolong the ceasefire failed.

The World Health Organization said Friday that 2,584 people had been killed in fighting in Yemen as of June 7, with 11,065 wounded.

Source: Agence France Presse

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