War planes attack Sana'a throughout night, finish at dawn: residents

Shia Muslim rebels hold up their weapons during a rally against air strikes in Sanaa. File photo

Shia Muslim rebels hold up their weapons during a rally against air strikes in Sanaa. File photo

War planes attacked Yemen's capital Sana'a through the night on Friday and stopped around dawn, residents of the city told Reuters on Saturday.

“There were planes strikes all through the night and stopped at dawn,” said a resident in Sana'a, adding that explosions were heard in an area west of the capital were a government national guard base was located.

There was no detail on whether the planes belonged to the Saudi-led coalition which launched attacks against Yemen’s Shia Houthi group on Thursday.

Earlier, Yemen's Houthi rebels made broad gains in the country's south and east on Friday despite a second day of Saudi-led air strikes meant to check the Iranian-backed militia's efforts to overthrow President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Shia Muslim Houthi fighters and allied army units gained their first foothold on Yemen’s Arabian Sea coast by seizing the port of Shaqra 100km east of Aden, residents told Reuters .

Explosions and crackles of small gunfire rang out across Aden late on Friday as Houthis made a push on the southern port city's airport, a witness said.

The advances threaten Mr. Hadi’s last refuge in Yemen and potentially undermine the air campaign to support him.

The spokesman for the Saudi-led operation, Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri, told a news conference in Riyadh that defending the Aden government was the campaign's “main objective”.

“The operation will continue as long as there is a need for it to continue,” Mr. Asseri said.

Warplanes targeted Houthi forces controlling Yemen's capital Sanaa and their northern heartland on Friday. Mr. Asseri said that planes from the United Arab Emirates had carried out their first strikes in the past 24 hours.

In a boost for Saudi Arabia, Morocco said it would join the rapidly assembled Sunni Muslim coalition against the Houthis. Pakistan, named by Saudi Arabia as a partner, said it had made no decision on whether to contribute.

Yemen on the brink

Who are fighting whom?

  • The rebel group controls nine of 21 provinces now
  • Here is some of those who are participating and what they are deploying: 100 fighter jets, 150,000 soldiers and some naval units 30 fighter jets 15 fighter jets 15 fighter jets 10 fighter jets 6 fighter jets 3 fighter jets naval and air forces involved.
  • The military is now split as units that support Hadi, units that support the Houthis, and units that support a still-influential Saleh, who is in the Houthi camp for now
  • Militia loyal to Hadi in his stronghold of south Yemen.
  • Hadi and Houthis are fighting al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has staged several attacks in the country and is strong in the south. Active since 2009. AQAP has taken advantage of the power struggle.
  • A new group of militants inspired by the Islamic State group has claimed major attacks, including suicide bombings which killed at least 142 people at Shia mosques in Sana’a.
  • CIA drones have continued to target top AQAP leaders, but the campaign has suffered from Hadi’s absenc. Last week, U.S. military advisers were withdrawn from a southern base as al-Qaeda militants seized a nearby city.

Who are the Houthis?

The Houthis are followers of the Shia Zaidi sect, the faith of around a third of Yemen’s population. Officially known as Ansarallah (the partisans of God), the group began as a movement preaching tolerance and peace in the Zaidi stronghold of North Yemen in the early 1990s.

After some protests pitted it against the government, the group launched an insurgency in 2004 against the then ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh that lasted till 2010. Their opponents view them as a proxy of Shia Iran. The group is hostile to the United States but has also vowed to eradicate al-Qaeda. They participated in the 2011 Arab Spring inspired revolution in Yemen that replaced Saleh with Hadi.

Key dates to the Yemen conflict

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    Printable version | May 17, 2022 9:58:58 am |