Saudi-led coali­tion bom­bards Ye­men rebels, drops more arms to loy­al­ists

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY NA­BIL HAS­SAN AND FAWAZ AL- HAIDARI

A Saudi-led coali­tion pounded rebels in south­ern Ye­men Satur­day and dropped more arms to loy­al­ist fighters as the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil pre­pared to dis­cuss calls for “hu­man­i­tar­ian pauses” in the air war.

Ye­men’s main south­ern city, a last foothold of sup­port­ers of ab­sent Pres­i­dent Abedrabbo Man­sour Hadi, has been shaken by more than a week of fierce clashes be­tween Shi­ite rebels and loy­al­ist mili­tia.

Coali­tion war planes and ships bom­barded Shi­ite Huthi rebel po­si­tions in Aden.

A mil­i­tary source said at least 13 rebel fighters were killed.

For a sec­ond night, the coali­tion air­dropped weapons and ammunition to sup­port­ers of Hadi, who fled to Saudi Ara­bia late last month as the Huthis ap­proached his refuge.

Pro-Hadi fighters were seen un­pack­ing ri­fles from wooden crates dropped by parachute.

“We thank the king­dom of Saudi Ara­bia and all the Gulf coun­tries, as well as our broth­ers in Arab coun­tries, for drop­ping sup­plies,” said Ah­mad Qassem al-Shaawi, a lo­cal mili­tia chief.

“God will­ing, we will be vic­to­ri­ous and bravely carry on fight­ing as he­roes, and fight off any attack.”

Aided by the strikes and arms drops, the pro-Hadi fighters have man­aged to drive the rebels back from some parts of cen­tral Aden in­clud­ing Hadi’s palace.

At least 185 dead and 1,282 wounded from the clashes have been counted in hos­pi­tals in Aden since March 26, the city’s health depart­ment direc­tor Al- Kheder Las­souar said.

Three-quar­ters were he added.

The toll does not in­clude ca­su­al­ties among the Huthi Shi­ite rebels

civil­ians, and their al­lies, who do not take their ca­su­al­ties to public hos­pi­tals, or vic­tims of air raids, he said.

Drug Stocks Ex­hausted

Las­souar called on in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions and Arab states par­tic­i­pat­ing in the coali­tion to pro­vide emer­gency med­i­cal as­sis­tance to hos­pi­tals in Aden.

“Medicine stocks are ex­hausted and hos­pi­tals can no longer cope with the in­creas­ing num­ber of vic­tims,” he said.

Ye­men, an im­pov­er­ished state on the south­ern tip of the Ara­bian Penin­sula, is the scene of the lat­est proxy strug­gle play­ing out be­tween Mid­dle East pow­ers, af­ter Syria and Iraq.

Iran, which backs the Huthis, has ac­cused Sunni-ruled Saudi Ara­bia of sow­ing in­sta­bil­ity in the re­gion.

But it has re­jected as “ut­ter lies” ac­cu­sa­tions that it armed the rebels, who have al­lied with army units loyal to for­mer pres­i­dent Ali Ab­dul­lah Saleh.

The United Na­tions said on Thurs­day that 519 peo­ple had been killed and nearly 1,700 in­jured in two weeks of fight­ing around the coun­try.

The U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil was to meet later on Satur­day to dis­cuss a Rus­sian pro­posal for hu­man­i­tar­ian pauses in the air war, now in its 10th day, diplo­mats in New York said.

The Red Cross said hos­pi­tals in Aden were over­whelmed by the ca­su­al­ties and fight­ing was mak­ing it nearly im­pos­si­ble for aid work­ers to move around

Two broth­ers work­ing for the Ye­men Red Cres­cent So­ci­ety were shot dead on Fri­day in the south­ern city while evac­u­at­ing the wounded, it said.

“In Ye­men, we are see­ing Red Cres­cent vol­un­teers be­ing de­lib­er­ately killed as they strive to save oth­ers. This is the third sense­less death in a sin­gle week. This is a very wor­ry­ing trend and a tragic loss,” said Robert Mar­dini of the In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross.

The tur­moil has al­lowed alQaida to ex­pand its foothold in the southeast of the deeply tribal coun­try, which had been a key U.S. ally in the war on the ex­trem­ist net­work.

On Fri­day, al- Qaida fighters cap­tured the re­gional army head­quar­ters in Mukalla, cap­i­tal of the south­east­ern prov­ince of Hadra­mawt.

AFP

Pak­istani ac­tivists shout slo­gans as they take part in a rally to sup­port the gov­ern­ment of Saudi Ara­bia over the sit­u­a­tion in Ye­men, in Karachi, Fri­day, April 3.

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