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The conflict has intensified in Yemen in recent days, with Saudi Arabia on Saturday launching a “large-scale” military operation in the country.
The Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen on Sunday accused Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah of helping Houthi rebels attack its territory, in the wake of deadly strikes. In recent days, the coalition has targeted Houthi rebel positions close to Iran in Yemen’s capital Sana’a, which they have controlled since the conflict began in 2014.
The coalition, which has supported the Yemeni government in its war against the rebels since 2015, accused them of “militarizing” Sana’a airport, which has been closed to humanitarian flights since Tuesday after Saudi raids.
“Hezbollah is training the Houthis to trap and use drones at the airport,” said General Turki al-Maliki, spokesperson for the coalition. “The Houthis are using Sana’a airport as the main launch point for ballistic missiles and drones” towards Saudi Arabia, he added at a press conference in Riyadh.
He released footage of what he said is “the seat of Iranian experts and Hezbollah at the airport” in Sana’a, as well as of men portrayed as members of the Lebanese Shiite movement considered terrorist by the Saudis. Turki al-Maliki called for the “responsibility of the international community” to “stop these hostile acts” against the kingdom.
Conflict has intensified in Yemen in recent days, with Saudi Arabia on Saturday launching a “full-scale” military operation in the country after two people were killed and seven injured in its own territory, in an attack claimed by the Houthis.
While Yemeni rebels regularly attack neighboring Saudi Arabia, targeting airports and oil infrastructure, this was the first fatal attack on the kingdom since 2018. In retaliation, three people were killed and six others were injured, according to the report. Yemeni doctors in coalition airstrikes northwest of Sana’a.
The coalition claimed Sunday morning that it had destroyed weapons warehouses in Sana’a, according to the official Saudi agency SPA. In the evening, she announced that she had launched new strikes on an air base in Sana’a to prevent the rebels from “transferring weapons”. Saudi Arabia has long accused Iran of providing arms to the Houthis and Hezbollah of training insurgents. If Tehran recognizes its political support for the rebels, it denies providing them with weapons.
Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Yemen Mohammed al-Jaber on Saturday compared the Houthis to Hezbollah, saying they are using Iranian weapons to attack his country. On Thursday, the US Navy said it had seized 1,400 AK-47 assault rifles and ammunition from a fishing boat it said left Iran for Yemeni rebels.
Since the conflict broke out seven years ago, the Houthis have gradually taken control of a large part of northern Yemen despite the intervention of the military coalition. In Sana’a, the Houthis pledged to “respond to escalation with escalation.” “We will not hesitate to carry out targeted operations in the coming period,” their military spokesman Yahya Saree said in a speech broadcast by the Yemeni pro-rebel channel Al-Masirah.
The recent Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia have been condemned by several countries, including the United States and France. These attacks “perpetuate the conflict, prolong the suffering of the Yemeni population and endanger the Saudis, as well as the 70,000 American nationals who reside in Arabia,” said the United States embassy in Riyadh in a statement on Saturday. .
In a tweet, French Ambassador Ludovic Pouille, for his part, offered his condolences to the Saudi families affected by the rebel attacks, whom he described as “barbarians”. According to the United Nations, the war in Yemen has claimed the lives of 377,000 people, more than half of them from the indirect consequences of the conflict, including lack of clean water, hunger and disease.
On Wednesday, the UN World Food Program said it was “forced” to cut aid to Yemen for lack of sufficient funds, despite rising hunger and the risk of famine in what is one. of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
Saudi Arabia said it retaliated overnight Monday through Tuesday to a ballistic missile fired by the Houthis from Yemen, destroying the launch site in Sana’a in an airstrike.