Houthi rebels reportedly advance towards Saudi border while coalition air strikes continue for fourth successive night.
A series of fresh air strikes in Yemen by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition has targeted a number of strategic sites held by Houthi rebels and the bases of army units loyal to the group’s main ally, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Air strikes early on Sunday, the fourth consecutive night since “Operation Decisive Storm” began, hit an arms depot in the capital city Sanaa’s Faj Attan area, as well as a special forces headquarters. A military airbase near the international airport was also hit.
A weapons depot outside the capital in the Asr mountains was destroyed, causing damage to planes, airport infrastructure and runways, while Houthi strongholds of Saada in the north and Hudaydah in the west were also targeted.
The fresh strikes came as Houthi fighters on Saturday threatened to undertake suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia if the kingdom continues to launch air strikes against the group’s positions.
Spokesman for the Arab coalition bombing Houthi targets in Yemen, Saudi Arabian Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri, said Houthi fighters were mobilising towards the Saudi border.
“Saudi forces are trying to deter the Houthis from mobilising in areas near Jizan and Najran using artillery and apache helicopters,” Asiri said.
“We will not allow the Houthis to bring their forces near the southern border of Saudi Arabia.”
Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi told the Arab League summit in Egypt’s Sharm
that the assault would not stop until the rebel group surrendered.
However, Abdel Mon’em Al-Qurashi, a senior member of the Houthis Executive Committee, said on Saturday that the group would destroy the Saudi regime for its “aggressive” policies, Iran’s Fars news agency reported.
“If Saudi Arabia continues its aggressions against the oppressed Yemeni people, [Houthi] fighters will pave the way for the Saudi regime’s destruction by conducting martyrdom-seeking operations inside Saudi Arabia in the coming hours,” Quraishi told Fars.
In the southern coastal city of Aden, several people were killed on Saturday after a series of blasts rocked an arms depot at the foot of Jabal Hadid mountain overlooking Aden.
The cause was not immediately clear but residents had been looting the arsenal of Soviet-era weapons.
Troops guarding the depot had abandoned their posts earlier this week after their commanders fled.
According to the Houthi-run interior ministry, at least 24 civilians were killed in Friday’s strikes, bringing the toll from Thursday and Friday to 45 civilians.
The figures of civilian and combatant casualties could not be independently confirmed, though Amnesty International said at least six children were among those killed in Sanaa on Thursday.
But General Asiri, the coalition’s spokesperson, said that the Houthis are to blame for the collateral damage.
“The Houthi militias are fortified inside houses populated with civilians. They’ve put anti-aircraft batteries over buildings, forcing us to bomb these areas, resulting in collateral damage,” said Asiri.
“The coalition forces are seeking to minimise these kinds of targets.”
Meanwhile, Gaza’s Hamas movement said in a statement that it supports President Hadi, saying it “stands with the political legitimacy in Yemen and the Yemeni people’s choice that they agreed democratically”.