Airstrikes re­sume on Ye­men’s cap­i­tal

Street bat­tles rage in the port city of Aden; in the north an of­fi­cial re­ports a full-scale hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis.

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - By Zaid Al-Alayaa and Laura King laura.king@la­times.com Spe­cial cor­re­spon­dent Al-Alayaa re­ported from Sana and Times staff writer King from Cairo.

SANA, Ye­men — Street bat­tles raged Satur­day in the Ye­meni port city of Aden as the cap­i­tal, Sana, was bom­barded for the first time since Saudi Ara­bia de­clared an eas­ing of its air of­fen­sive four days ear­lier.

The Saudi-led coali­tion’s air war, now en­ter­ing its sec­ond month, has failed to dis­lodge Shi­ite Mus­lim Houthi rebels from Aden, the coun­try’s com­mer­cial hub, or wrest con­trol of Sana, which fell to the in­sur­gents months ago. The com­bat­ants have so far ig­nored calls to de­clare a cease-fire and hold peace talks.

More civil­ian ca­su­al­ties were re­ported as airstrikes bat­tered the Houthis and their al­lies in some ar­eas, in­clud­ing Marib, where ma­jor elec­tri­cal fa­cil­i­ties and oil fields are lo­cated, and Saada, in the coun­try’s north, where the gover­nor de­clared Satur­day that a full-scale hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis had de­vel­oped.

The United Na­tions says at least half of the more than 1,000 peo­ple be­lieved to have been killed in the last month are civil­ians.

Close-quar­ters fight­ing was said to be tak­ing place in at least two neigh­bor­hoods of Aden, in the south, which was the last bas­tion of Pres­i­dent Abdu Rabu Man­sour Hadi be­fore a Houthi on­slaught forced him to f lee the coun­try.

Fight­ing with heavy weapons, com­bined with airstrikes, has left parts of the city in ru­ins.

The bom­bard­ment Satur­day was among the heav­i­est yet of the Saudi-led air cam­paign. The gov­ern­ment of Saudi Ara­bia on Tues­day de­clared that the first phase of its mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion was over, sug­gest­ing that it would cur­tail airstrikes, but they re­sumed again within hours.

Med­i­cal of­fi­cials said that more than two dozen peo­ple on both sides had died in Satur­day’s vi­o­lence. The Houthis, to­gether with some army units loyal to for­mer Pres­i­dent Ali Ab­dul­lah Saleh, have been fight­ing forces who claim al­le­giance to Hadi.

Saleh has called for a pull­back by Houthi in­sur­gents, but they have in­sisted that the airstrikes must stop first.

Ye­men is the Arab world’s poor­est coun­try, but boasts a strate­gic lo­ca­tion along­side key ship­ping lanes. Its de­scent into vi­o­lence has been watched with alarm by the re­gion, and the com­bat­ants have pow­er­ful out­side back­ers — the Houthis are aligned with Shi­ite Mus­lim Iran, while Sunni Mus­lim Saudi Ara­bia wants Hadi re­stored to power.

Wash­ing­ton has been pro­vid­ing lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port to the Saudi-led coali­tion, and days ago a U.S. air­craft car­rier was de­ployed near Ye­men.

Hani Mo­hammed As­so­ci­ated Press

A BUILD­ING IN SANA, Ye­men’s cap­i­tal, was heav­ily dam­aged by a Saudi-led airstrike that was re­ported to have hit a site be­lieved to be a large weapons cache.

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