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Yemen: Russian aid plane leaves Sanaa after delay

The conflict in Yemen has pitched regional rivals Saudi Arabia against Iran [Getty]

Date of publication: 6 November, 2015

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A Russian plane which had been carrying aid is on its way back to Moscow, having retrieved dozens of Russian citizens stranded in the Yemeni capital.
A Russian Emergencies Ministry plane with 50 Russians onboard left Yemen's capital Sanaa on Friday, after being delayed for "technical reasons", according to Russian media.

The spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, Ahmad Asiri, had previously blamed their rivals, saying on Thursday: "The [Houthi] militias prevented the plane's departure to attract international attention.

"Only one plane landed at Sanaa airport. We permitted it to land in Yemen and we gave it a scheduled time to leave but it was delayed," Asiri said, according to al-Araby al-Jadeed's Arabic service.

     
      A copy of the plane's permit to land [AAAJ]
But the Houthi-run channel al-Masirah blamed the Saudi-led coalition for the delay, saying it tried to prevent the Russian plane from taking off from the airport because it had landed without being inspected by coalition forces.

Russian media said the plane was transporting "20 tonnes of humanitarian aid", including food and tents, and that it evacuated 50 Russians and CIS citizens from war-torn Sanaa, which is under the control of Houthi rebels.

Russia last sent planes to Yemen's capital in July, carrying 46 tonnes of aid.

Since late March, the Saudi-led coalition has been bombing Houthi rebels and forces allied to deposed leader Ali Abdallah Saleh, in a bid to reinstall the government of internationally recognised President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

The humanitarian crisis in Yemen has been identified by the UN as one of the world's worst, with 80 percent of the country's population on the brink of famine.

Around 5,000 people have been killed in the conflict, more than half of which were civilians, according to UN estimates.

The conflict in Yemen has pitched regional rivals Saudi Arabia against Iran, which is backing the Houthis. Russia is allied to Iran as the main backers of President Bashar al-Assad in the conflict in Syria.

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