Saudi-Led Bombers Hit Yemen Rebels

Saudi-Led Bombers  Hit Yemen Rebels Saudi-Led Bombers  Hit Yemen Rebels

Saudi-led warplanes hit rebel positions in southern Yemen Monday including the rebel-held presidential palace in Aden as gunfire killed five people in the port city, medics and residents said, AFP reported.

The palace complex in the main southern city was President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s last refuge before he fled to neighboring Saudi Arabia as the coalition air war began on March 26 and has been repeatedly targeted by air strikes.

Coalition aircraft also hit rebel positions and checkpoints at the entrances to Aden in the sorties that continued until 6:00 am, residents said.

Two civilians and three militiamen loyal to Hadi were killed by gunfire in the city, a medic said.

The Houthi Shiite rebels and their allies in army units loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh clashed with Hadi supporters in several neighborhoods during the night, residents said.

Further east, coalition air strikes hit Houthi positions in another southern province, Shabwa, witnesses said.

Armed tribesmen in the province seized a rebel army brigade base in the coastal town of Al-Nashima, tribal sources said.

  New Vice President

Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled the country in the face of a rebel advance last month, has tapped his former Prime Minister Khaled Bahah to be vice president in a move aimed at strengthening the embattled executive branch, an official close to Hadi said, AP reported.

The Shiite Houthis, had demanded the formation of a presidential council instead. Along with military units allied with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, they control the capital, Sanaa, and much of the country’s north, and have advanced despite more than two weeks of Saudi-led airstrikes.

Mohammed Abdel Salam, a Houthi spokesman, denounced the appointment of Bahah in televised comments on a pro-Houthi channel. He said that the Houthi group will not recognize decisions promulgated by Hadi and that anything pertaining to the country’s politics should be decided upon through dialogue within the country.

UN special envoy for Yemen Jamal Benomar has been urging the parties to come to a negotiated settlement. Saleh has also called for a UN-sponsored dialogue.

Hadi fled the capital earlier this year after the Houthis put him under house arrest, and established a temporary capital in the southern port city of Aden.

He later sought refuge in Saudi Arabia as the rebels and their allies closed in on Aden, which is now gripped by fierce fighting.

The Houthis also held Bahah and other Cabinet ministers under house arrest for weeks, eventually setting them free in the middle of March. During their detention, Bahah and the Cabinet members resigned in protest. Bahah is currently visiting Saudi Arabia.

Bahah, who hails from southern Yemen, served as Yemen’s ambassador to the United Nations before he was appointed prime minister following weeks of political deadlock.

On Sunday, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister refused calls from Tehran to stop its aerial assault.

Saud al-Faisal said his country is not at war with Iran. “Iran is not in charge of Yemen,” al-Faisal said during a press conference Sunday in Riyadh alongside his French counterpart, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.