Coalition jets target Houthi weapons depot in Sanaa
SANAA // Powerful explosions shook the Yemeni capital on Monday after warplanes from the Saudi Arabia-led coalition struck a rebel arms depot.
The raid targeted the depot in the Mount Noqum area on the eastern outskirts of Sanaa, triggering several blasts.
Thick black smoke billowed from the site and debris was scattered in residential areas at the foot of the hill, witnesses said.
Coalition planes also struck Houthi positions in the central city of Taez and in the oil-producing Marib province east of the capital Sanaa.
The attacks came a day ahead of a hoped-for five-day humanitarian truce proposed by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition which launched strikes against Houthi rebels in late March in support of exiled president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi.
With the humanitarian crisis in Yemen mounting, the UAE on Monday stressed the need for a political solution to the conflict when the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Anwar Gargash, received the newly appointed UN special envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.
The UAE is part of the coalition fighting the Iran-backed Houthis rebels, whose attempted takeover of Yemen is seen as a threat to other Gulf Arab countries.
Saudi Arabia sent a “strike force” to its border with Yemen on Monday, hours after the kingdom’s forces and the Houthi rebels traded heavy artillery fire.
The Saudi-owned Al Arabiya Hadath TV channel broadcast pictures of a column of tanks loaded on to military lorries and described it as “the arrival of reinforcements from the strike force to the border”.
A Saudi civil defence spokesman said a Pakistani resident of Najran was killed when school and residential neighbourhood in the city were shelled on Monday, taking the death toll to 11 since the Houthis began firing across the border last week.
A Saudi child and three residents “of different nationalities” were wounded, the spokesman said.
Bangladesh’s ministry of foreign affairs said on Monday at least two of its citizens working on a farm in Najran were killed in the Houthi shelling last week.
The Houthis said they fired Katyusha rockets and mortars on Jizan and Najran on Monday, after the Saudi forces hit Saada and Hajjah provinces with more than 150 rockets.
In Abu Dhabi, Dr Gargash and the UN special envoy discussed the outlook for a political solution to the situation in Yemen based on the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative, the outcome of Yemeni national dialogue and UN Security Council resolution 2216.
Dr Gargash emphasised to the Mr Ould Cheikh Ahmed that the UAE, based on its firm belief in the need to reach an inclusive political solution to the Yemeni crisis, would do its utmost to back the UN envoy’s mission.
“At this stage, the UAE gives the highest priority to relief operations,” he said. “We have had lengthy consultations with the UN envoy as we believe in the urgent need to effectively counter the difficult humanitarian situation in Yemen.”
Dr Gargash said he briefed the UN special envoy on the UAE’s continuing relief efforts being carried out through air and land routes.
He also emphasised that it was important the Houthis and their allies respected the ceasefire to help achieve its goals.
“Our consultations with the UN special envoy will continue to support the political effort required for a solution to the Yemeni crisis,” Dr Gargash added.
* Agence France-Presse, Wam and Reuters
Updated: May 11, 2015 04:00 AM