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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Saudi says coalition will begin reopening Yemen air and seaports

The Saudi-led coalition closed the ports after Yemen's Houthi rebels launched a ballistic missile at the international airport in Riyadh

A soldier guards Aden’s international airport on January 7, 2016, days after Yemeni security forces took over control of public facilities from resistance militias in the southern city. Saleh Al Obeidi / AFP
A soldier guards Aden’s international airport on January 7, 2016, days after Yemeni security forces took over control of public facilities from resistance militias in the southern city. Saleh Al Obeidi / AFP

Saudi Arabia said on Monday that the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi rebels in Yemen will begin reopening air and seaports, days after closing them following a ballistic missile attack by the rebels on Riyadh.

The announcement comes after Yemeni transport minister Murad Al Halimi said on Friday that airports in the government-held cities of Aden and Seiyun, in Hadramawt province, would be reopening.

"The first step in this process will be taken within 24 hours and involves reopening all the ports in areas controlled by [Yemen's internationally-recognised government]", the Saudi mission at the United Nations said on Monday. The Saudi-led coalition, which includes the UAE, is fighting the Houthis on behalf of the Yemeni government.

Air and seaports controlled by the government are located in the Yemeni cities of Aden, Mokha and Mukalla. For ports in rebel-held or disputed territories, such as the city of Hodeidah, the Saudi mission said it has asked the United Nations to send a team of experts to discuss ways to make sure weapons can't be smuggled in.

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The coalition hopes that will prevent "the smuggling of weapons, ammunitions, missile parts and cash that are regularly being supplied by Iran and Iranian accomplices to the Houthi rebels", the mission said.

Despite the Saudi announcement, a Houthi leader on Monday vowed retaliation against the kingdom for the closure of ports and airports.

The fiery comments by Saleh Al Sammad, the head of the Presidency Council of the Houthis, came during a rally of thousands of rebel supporters marching down a main boulevard in the Houthi-held capital, Sanaa.

Mr Al Sammad claimed the coalition had "shut down all doors for peace and dialogue" and said the Houthis would develop their abilities to "respond to the assault of the enemy".

After two years of a devastating war, the Houthis still control much of Yemen's north while the south falls under the control of the government of president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi.

Saudi Arabia shut down all ports in Yemen after the Houthis launched a ballistic missile at Riyadh's international airport.

The missile was intercepted but Saudi Arabia and the United States both accused Iran of supplying the missile, saying it bore "Iranian markings".

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