Saudi bombers pound Yemen for second night
A Saudi Arabian-led coalition has carried out a second night of air raids against the Houthi movement in Yemen, attacking military targets in the capital Sanaa and bases held by Houthi sympathisers in the south of the country.
Powerful explosions were reported in Sanaa on Thursday evening and raids were reported around the southern province of Aden, the bastion of Yemen's internationally recognised president, Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
Anti-aircraft fire erupted in response to what witnesses said were bombing runs on the military camp at al-Istiqbal, at Sanaa's western entrance, and al-Samaa military base to the north of Sanaa.
Two raids targeted the large al-Anad airbase, north of Aden, which Houthi rebels seized on Wednesday, military sources told the AFP news agency. Another raid targeted a base of special forces allied with the Houthis in Qatabah, 75 miles north of Aden, local residents were quoted by the agency as saying.
Jets were also spotted flying over Abyan, mainly over the base of al-Majd army brigade, which is accused of being linked to the rebels, witnesses said.
Kafa Hashli, a journalist in Aden, told al-Araby al-Jadeed of local support for the Saudi campaign.
"There is a feeling of strength among many and a feeling that the international community has finally been fair to the south, even if it is late," he said. "Aden was on the verge of disaster as people were preparing for urban warfare. Southerners had felt that they had been left alone."
|Aden was on the verge of disaster... [now] there is a feeling of strength among many.
Kafa Hashli, Aden
However in Sanaa, Somaya Alkorshwmi, a student, said residents feared for their lives.
"Living under Saudi air raids makes us feel that we don't have any dignity and that the state does not have any sovereignty," she said. "This isn't the right way to press the Houthis. Imagine how densely populated Sanaa is, and they're randomly bombing. I'm terrified."
Sources in the Houthi stronghold of Sadaa, which shares a border with Saudi Arabia, reported to al-Araby al-Jadeed that jets bombed the areas of Naqaa and Marran, in addition to other Houthi strongholds in the governorate.
Raids also targeted Houthi locations in the governorate of Hajjah, which is also close to the Saudi border.
Saudi Arabia backed over campaign
Saudi Arabia received widespread regional support for its campaign on Thursday. Four GCC states - Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE, joined the alliance in a move they said would protect the legitimate government of Hadi and prevent regional instability. Morocco, Egypt, Sudan, Pakistan and Jordan also declared their part in the alliance.
The US and UK said they supported the action against the Houthis, who have taken over Sanaa and large areas of the country. Hadi controls areas around the southern port city Aden, where he fled in February.
Iran condemned the attacks on the Houthis, which is it accused of backing. Tehran's foreign minister, Mohammad Zarif, said the attacks would lead to nothing but "more bloodshed and death".
"We have always warned countries from the region and the West to be careful and not enter shortsighted games and not go in the same direction as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group," he said.
Sources told al-Araby that among other targets, the first night of bombing had destroyed a runway and four MIG jets at Sanaa's main air force base.
The Houthi-controlled ministry of health said 18 civilians had been killed and 24 others were wounded in an airstrike on a neighbourhood close to the Sanaa airport lare on Wednesday evening.
Hadi, who was reported on Wednesday to have fled Yemen as Houthi fighters converged on Aden, arrived in Riyadh on Thursday and is expected to participate on Saturday in an Arab League summit in Egypt, which will discuss the war in his country and moves to create a Arab joint-military force to tackle crises in the region.
Meanwhile, sources have told al-Araby that two US navy ships are patrolling the Red Sea, across from Yemeni shores in the Bab al-Mandab strait, to monitor the situation.
The source said the USS Iwo Jima and the USS Fort McHenry, in the area since January, were on high alert.
The White House on Wednesday said it would provide information and logistical support to its GCC allies in their campaign in Yemen.
Abubakr al-Shamahi contributed to this report, which also includes translated material from our Arabic edition.