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Yemen rattled by raids as clashes spread

China Daily | Updated: 2017-12-05 08:01

Iranian embassy in Sanaa hit, catches fire during fightings

SANAA, Yemen - A wave of air raids rattled the country's crisis-hit capital on Monday, witnesses said, as clashes between rebels and supporters of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh spread beyond Sanaa.

The strikes appeared to hit targets near Sanaa International Airport and the Interior Ministry, both under the control of the Houthi rebels, according to residents and a source inside the airport.

A military coalition led by Saudi Arabia, is the only party in the Yemen conflict known to conduct airstrikes on Sanaa.

A spokesman for the coalition did not respond to requests for confirmation of the raids on Monday.

Residents near the airport said multiple air raids had shaken their homes late on Sunday night and in the early hours of Monday.

An airport source said rebel bases near the location appeared to have been targeted but the airport itself had not been bombed.

Residents also reported that the fighting, which erupted Wednesday night between armed Saleh supporters and Houthi fighters, had spread outside the capital. Gunbattles forced shops and schools to close in the city on Sunday.

The radio station of Houthi-run interior ministry said on Monday that Saleh had been killed.

It said the official Houthi TV station would soon broadcast footage of Saleh's dead body.

But Saleh's party denied that their leader had been killed and said he was still leading forces in heavy fighting in Sanaa that has killed at least 125 people and wounded 238 in six days.

Meanwhile, a fire ripped through the building of the Iranian embassy in Sanaa on Sunday during clashes, a Xinhua reporter said.

The fire broke out after the embassy being attacked by heavy weapons, but it remained unknown who were responsible for the attack.

A security official said that about 20 embassy's staff members were trapped inside the building.

Yemeni territory is split between the forces and government of Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi in the south, backed by Saudi Arabia, the northern Houthi forces loyal to Saleh.

Since 2014, Sanaa has been ruled under an agreement between Saleh and the Houthis, who drove the Hadi government out of the capital, set up their own government and for two years together fought the Saudi-led coalition.

Saleh on Saturday announced he was open to talks with Saudi Arabia and its allies on condition they ended their crippling blockade on Yemen's ports and airports - dealing a serious blow to his already fragile alliance with rebel chief Abdul Malik al-Houthi.

The Saleh-Houthi split has sparked fears of a new front in the Yemen conflict, which has already claimed more than 8,750 lives since the Saudi-led coalition joined the war to support the Hadi government.

The conflict has pushed Yemen to the brink of mass starvation and triggered what the United Nations has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday expressed concern over the recent escalation of the conflict.

"This latest outbreak of violence could not come at a worse time for the Yemeni people, who are already caught up in the world's largest humanitarian crisis," said Guterres in a statement.

The secretary-general called on all parties to the conflict to cease all air and ground assaults, Guterres said, reiterating that there is no military solution to the conflict.

AFP - Xinhua - Reuters

(China Daily 12/05/2017 page12)

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