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Saudi Arabia launches air strikes against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen

BEIRUT |, with agencies - March 26, 2015, 08h50
King Salman of Saudi Arabia. Photo: Saudi Press Agency.
Saudi Arabia last night carried out air strikes against Huthi rebels in Yemen, launching an operation by a regional coalition to save the government of embattled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi as the country teetered on the brink of civil war. The kingdom's ambassador to the United States announced from Washington that a coalition of 10 countries, including five Gulf monarchies, had been set up to protect the Yemeni government.
Saudi Arabia consulted with the United States at "high levels" before launching air strikes against Houthi fighters in Yemen, and President Barack Obama was aware of the plan, a U.S. official told Reuters agency.

The official was speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official announcement of the attack was made last night in Washington by the Saudi Ambassador to the USA. This fact was a very symbolic one, as the United States are currently discussing a nuclear deal with Iran.

The Obama administration gave its support to the military campaign, the official said.  Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir told reporters earlier that Riyadh had been in touch with Washington about the operation now under way. However, the United States is not a member of the 10-country coalition, he added.

The Saudi-led coalition includes several Gulf countries, as well as Jordan, Sudan, Morocco, Egypt and Pakistan.

According to Al Arabiya News Channel,  King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia ordered the beginning of a sweeping military operation against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen early on Thursday. King Salman gave his order at 12 a.m. on Thursday, the news channel said.

Hours later the Royal Saudi Air Force carried out several airstrikes on Houthi positions in Yemen, destroying most of an airbase used by the militia in Sanaa and "most of their air defenses," a Saudi source told the channel.

According to the Houthi-run al-Masirah television, Saudi-led air strikes launched on Thursday targeted a residential neighbourhood north of the capital Sanaa, causing dozens of casualties, the Houthi-run al-Masirah television reported. Quoted by Reuters agency, the satellite channel also urged medical personnel to urgently report to hospitals in the capital.

Iran condemned regional rival Saudi Arabia on Thursday for launching airstrikes on Houthi rebels in Yemen, saying it was "a dangerous step" that violated "international responsibilities and national sovereignty." Foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said that that military action would "further complicate the situation, spread the crisis and remove opportunities for a peaceful resolution of Yemen's internal differences."

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said on Thursday via Twitter that "King Salman's decision to military intervene in Yemen is wise and heroic". He added that the Iranian intervention in Yemen requires Arab reaction, stressing that "the Yemeni people will be with the Arab military intervention against the Houthis".
#Saudi_Arabia, #Yemen
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