Warplanes strike Yemen's capital, 25 killed

March 27, 2015 2:19 am 

SANAA, March 26 — Saudi warplanes raided military camps belonging to the Shiite Houthi group in Yemen's capital Sanaa on Thursday, killing at least 25 civilians and wounding 50 others, rescue personnel told Xinhua.

Warplanes struck the al-Dailamy air force base in northern Sanaa and destroyed the runway, which is adjacent to the civil airport, a defense ministry official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The strikes also targeted weapons depots at a missile base in the southern part of Sanaa, which is controlled by the army loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Rescue personnel who arrived at a civilian compound near the air base on Thursday morning found at least 15 houses destroyed in the air raid. They said they have found 25 bodies till Thursday afternoon, and that there might be more victims found after they removed all wreckage.

Meanwhile, 50 people have been sent to hospitals for treatment, all of them civilians living in houses near the air force base.

The Houthi-run al-Maseera TV reported that dozens of people were killed overnight, without giving further details.

The Sanaa international airport was damaged during the air raid and has been shut down.

Intensified sounds of anti-aircraft artillery could be heard across the capital city. Residents near the airport said they heard explosions and saw fires in different places in the military base of al-Dailamy.

They said Houthi fighters deployed several anti-aircraft guns on the main streets in Sanaa.

Mohammed al-Boukhaiti, a member of the Houthi political bureau, told Xinhua that "Saudi aggression is a declaration of war against the Yemeni people and we will fight them."

The General People's Congress, a former ruling party led by Saleh, said in a statement posted on its website that "the Saudi air aggression violates the Charter of the United Nations and the agreement signed by the Saudi and Yemeni governments."

Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and its main ally Saudi Arabia have accused Saleh of supporting the Houthi group to overrun the country.

Najeeb Ghalab, a politics professor at Sanaa University, said "the Arab intervention reflected united Arab position toward the situation in Yemen and that leaves no room for any faction to maneuver or risk reckless moves."

However, observers said there is little chance that the air raid could prevent the Houthi group from seizing the southern port city of Aden, as their fighters have already taken over the Aden international airport and most pro-Hadi tribal militia have started to retreat from the city to neighboring Abyan province.

However, Fathi Abu Alnasr, an analyst based in Sanaa, argued that the Arab military action is helpful for now while Houthis and pro-Saleh forces are fighting in many parts. However, he did not exclude bad consequences that could happen.

"The intervention is destroying Houthi and Saleh forces but in principle it remains a rejected invasion of Yemen," he said.

Intensified gunfire could be heard on the outskirts of Aden on Thursday morning, which Hadi proclaimed as the temporary capital last week. Sanaa has now been under control of the Houthi group for almost half a year.

In the port city, services at all foreign diplomatic missions were suspended. The Aden international airport was shut down because all of its staff members have left, and diplomats of Gulf Arab nations have already flown out of the country. (PNA/Xinhua)

JBP/RSM

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