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Saudi forces have been widely accused of committing war crimes during the campaign in Yemen.
Saudi forces have been widely accused of committing war crimes during the campaign in Yemen.

Saudi-Led Coalition Provides Air Support for Yemen’s Saleh

A Saudi state-owned TV station says coalition aircraft pounded Houthi outposts in southern Sanaa, but gave no details on casualties. Residents reported at least five air strikes shook the highlands of the area

Saudi-Led Coalition Provides Air Support for Yemen’s Saleh

Aircraft from the US-backed Saudi-led coalition bombed Houthi positions in Sanaa overnight on Sunday, residents and local media said, aiming to shore up supporters of former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh as they battle the Houthi group.

Saleh announced on Saturday he was ready to turn a “new page” in ties with the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen if it stopped attacks on Yemeni citizens, in a move that could pave the way to end nearly three years of war, Reuters reported.

The apparent shift in position came as Saleh’s forces battled Houthi fighters in Hadda, a district in southern Sanaa where members of Saleh’s family, including his nephew Tareq, live. It was the fourth day of clashes sparked by what Saleh’s General People’s Congress (GPC) called an attempt to seize a main mosque in the city.

The fighting has killed dozens of people and wounded hundreds, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, and raised concern of further casualties among civilians.

Saleh’s announcement was welcomed by the Saudi-led coalition, which has struggled to achieve any progress against the Houthi-Saleh alliance that had controlled most of northern Yemen since 2015 and forced president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee into exile.

The head of the Houthis’ Ansarullah group warned that the biggest winner from what he described as Saleh’s “sedition” was the Saudi-led coalition.

“I appeal to the leader Saleh to show more wisdom and maturity... and not to heed incitement calls,” Abdel-Malek al-Houthi said in a speech on the group’s Al-Masirah TV, adding that his group was ready to sit down for arbitration and abide by any ruling.

The clashes had added a new layer to an already complex situation in Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Middle East, where a war between Houthis and the Saudi-backed Hadi has caused one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent times.

The Saudi-owned al-Arabiya television said coalition aircraft pounded Houthi outposts in southern Sanaa, but gave no details on casualties. Residents reported at least five air strikes shook the highlands of the area.

Inside the city, residents said that Houthi fighters seized television studios of Yemen Today, a news channel owned by Saleh, after clashes that damaged the building.

Saleh had on Saturday issued his message to the Saudi-led coalition in a speech broadcast from the studios.

Yemen descended into violence in late 2014 when the Houthis marched on Sanaa and seized control of the government.

In May 2015, following Saudi-led coalition air raids on his home in Sanaa, Saleh officially announced for the first time the establishment of his alliance with the Houthis. A year later, the Saleh’s GPC party and Ansarullah, the political arm of the Houthis, signed an agreement to form a political council to run the country.

The group, backed by government troops loyal to Saleh, resumed its march south and attacked Hadi’s interim capital in Aden, forcing Hadi to flee. A Saudi-led alliance then waged a bloody war to reinstall him.

Saudi forces have been widely accused of committing war crimes during the campaign in the country, where reports on the ground suggest they have blown up international hospitals, funerals, schools, and weddings. Peace talks led by the UN have been frozen since August 2016 after no agreement was made.

The coalition imposed a total blockade in October on the country, where nearly 80% of the people need humanitarian aid to survive.

UN humanitarian affairs chief Mark Lowcock said on Friday that the Saudi-led military coalition must fully lift its blockade on Yemen, where 7 or 8 million are “right on the brink of famine,” Reuters reported.

Yemen’s war has killed more than 10,000 people since 2015, displaced more than two million people, and caused a cholera outbreak infecting nearly one million people.

Meanwhile, the Houthi group said it fired a cruise missile towards a nuclear power plant in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, the group’s television service reported on its website on Sunday.

“The missile force announces the launching of a winged cruise missile ... towards the al-Barakah nuclear reactor in Abu Dhabi,” the website said. It gave no further details.

The UAE state news agency WAM denied the report on its Twitter account.

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