Arab Air Strikes Cripple Yemen's Main Airport amid Deadly Clashes near Oil Region

إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية W460

Saudi-led warplanes bombed Yemen's main international airport and a renegade troop base in the capital Sunday, as Arab leaders vowed to pummel Iranian-backed rebels until they surrender.

The raids on the country's main airport came just hours after U.N. workers were evacuated following deadly fighting that has sent tensions soaring between Tehran and other Middle East powers.

India and Pakistan also moved to airlift their citizens from the chaos-wracked country.

Yemen's President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi has urged his Arab allies to keep bombing until the Huthi Shiite rebels are defeated, branding them Iran's "puppet."

His Foreign Minister Riyadh Yassin said there could be "no negotiations and dialogue" with the rebels "until the legitimate government has control over all Yemeni lands."

Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi said at a regional summit in Egypt the offensive would last until the rebels "surrender" their weapons and withdraw from areas they seized.

The Huthis and allied renegade military units have overrun much of Yemen and prompted Hadi to flee what had been his last remaining refuge in the main southern city Aden for Saudi Arabia.

Dozens of people have been killed in days of clashes in Aden, dimming prospects of Hadi returning any time soon.

At least 38 people were killed Sunday near the oil region of Usaylan in southern Shabwa province after tribesmen attacked rebel positions, security and tribal sources said.

In the capital, witnesses reported three loud explosions and a large fire when Sanaa International Airport was bombed during a fourth night of Saudi-led air raids.

- Foreigners flee -

"This was the first time they hit the runway" since the campaign began, an aviation source said.

A civil aviation official at the airport later told AFP repair work on the runway had begun.

More than 200 staff from the U.N., embassies and other organizations had been flown out from Sanaa Saturday.

A jumbo jet took off from Hodeida in western Yemen Sunday with nearly 500 Pakistanis on board, including Islamabad's ambassador, officials said.

India said it had received permission from the Arab coalition to airlift out its stranded citizens and would also send a ship.

Saudi-led air strikes on Sunday hit a hill overlooking the Sanaa presidential palace, held by Huthis and their allies, as well as several bases in the port city of al-Makha, witnesses said.

Overnight strikes had hit the pro-rebel Republican Guard headquarters at al-Subaha base in Sanaa, killing 15 soldiers, a military official said.

The Huthis are backed by army units loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who stepped down in 2012 after a year-long popular uprising and is accused of supporting the rebels.

Saudi-led strikes also hit an airbase in rebel-held Hodeida, witnesses said.

Other raids targeted a base of the First Artillery Brigade in Saada, the Huthis' northern stronghold.

Spokesman Ahmed Assiri told reporters in Riyadh the "coalition operations will increase pressure on Huthi militia" who will "no longer have a safe haven within Yemen."

He also said coalition forces had "ensured a safe corridor" by temporarily suspending operations around Hodeida to allow the Pakistani evacuation.

At the summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Arab leaders had "agreed on the principle" of creating a joint military force.

The proposal has taken on added urgency since the Huthis seized swathes of Yemen, although Saudi Arabia has said there are no immediate plans to send in ground troops.

- Russian concerns -

The Sunni Arab coalition is said to have been spurred into action by the prospect of a Shiite Iran-backed regime seizing power in impoverished Yemen on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.

Russia has voiced concern that the clashes could undermine nuclear negotiations between world powers and Iran in the Swiss city of Lausanne, although diplomats said a tentative deal was emerging.

In talks with Yassin in Egypt, Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov called on "all sides of the conflict to cease military action in the name of preserving the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yemen," his ministry said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a vociferous critic of Tehran, denounced the "Iran-Lausanne-Yemen axis which is dangerous for all of humanity and which must be stopped."

According to Saudi Arabia, more than 10 countries have joined the coalition defending Hadi. Washington and Britain have pledged logistical support.

Late Saturday, anti-Huthi local fighters were reported to have retaken Aden airport with the loss of five men, and nine rebels killed.

Nearly 100 people are reported to have died in violence in Aden in recent days.

Comments 18
Thumb EagleDawn 29 March 2015, 10:59

hope these iranian terrorists didnt suffer too much... teeeeheeeeheeee :D

Thumb EagleDawn 29 March 2015, 16:24

naharnet why do you keep calling these animals "rebels". they are terrorists, and calling them anything less than this is already beginning to whitewash them.

Thumb Mystic 29 March 2015, 11:13

Only terrorists are the ones you are backing, the Saudis and their takfiri minions.

The GCC coalition made out of terrorists bombing a sovereign country.

Thumb barrymore 29 March 2015, 11:24

it seems sovereignty is selective when it involves your iranian allies. Syria is also a sovereign country yet you have no problem seeing iranian and shia militias violating its sovereignty.

Thumb ashtah 29 March 2015, 12:00

isn't it interesting now that you are getting some whipping, you started to remember words such as "soverignty", "independence", etc. Words that you never uttered for the last 4 years in relation to the events in Syria and Iraq. Get some education and get used to using those words more often.

Thumb Mystic 29 March 2015, 12:24

Very funny, how I knew you would mention Syria. Without that intervention, Lebanon would be Daeshland by now, the difference too is that the Syrian government themselves invited the Resistance inside. Nobody invited the Saudis into Yemen, only the ousted ex President did and he is far gone from Yemen by now, because he is a coward like all M14ers are.

Missing mohammad_ca 29 March 2015, 12:37

Mysic, don't spread Nasrallaat's lies, Daesh did not exist when Hizbollaat got involved in defending ASSAd.

Thumb galaxy 29 March 2015, 12:12

قتل القيادي في ميليشيا حزب الله اللبناني، المسؤول عن الحملة العسكرية على مدينة الزبداني، عبدالله جعفر، في اشتباكات مع كتائب الثوار في محيط حواجز الجبر الغربي على أطراف الزبداني في ريف دمشق

Missing mohammad_ca 29 March 2015, 12:39

bi jhannam el7amra inshallah.

Thumb shab 29 March 2015, 17:20

Good news

Thumb Mystic 29 March 2015, 12:26

Yet Naharnet continues to hide the death toll of the coalition. The Saudis did loose some Aircraft, the world just been low profile about it.

Missing mohammad_ca 29 March 2015, 12:38

proof ?

Thumb galaxy 29 March 2015, 12:40

let's assume it is true mystic, so what? you think the coalition got into this war believing they will incur zero losses. Stop hanging onto every straw just to make what you believe is an intelligent comment.

Missing mohammad_ca 29 March 2015, 13:32

I guess hizbollaat's base don't need proof so long as almanar and other bogus media outlets tell them something.

Thumb galaxy 29 March 2015, 13:02

today is the 29th of March not 27th of March southern. The article dated 27th was reporting on events on 26th and before.

Missing mohammad_ca 29 March 2015, 13:26

that story is almost 3 days old ya houthi.

Missing mohammad_ca 29 March 2015, 13:33

well you support "saints" that killed a Lebanese prime minister so...what does that make you?

Thumb megahabib 30 March 2015, 00:15

Saudia is ISIL's airforce.