Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Heavy fighting in Aden and at Saudi-Yemeni border, at least 40 civilians killed in aistrikes on refugee camp

Children killed in airstrikes on a refugee camp. According to Unicef at least 62 children have been killed in Yemen in the past week. (Photo Yemen Observer)

Saudi troops clashed with Yemeni Houthi fighters on Tuesday in the heaviest exchange of cross-border fire since the start of a Saudi-led air offensive last week, while Yemen's foreign minister called for a rapid Arab intervention on the ground. Residents and tribal sources in north Yemen reported artillery and rocket exchanges along several stretches of the Saudi border. Explosions and heavy gunfire were heard and Saudi helicopters flew overhead, they said.
In the southern port of Aden, Houthi fighters and their allies, army units loyal to former president Ali Abdallah Saleh, pressed an offensive against forces loyal to Hadi, trying to capture the last remaining major stronghold of the absent president's forces. At least 36 people were killed when Houthi forces shelled Hadi loyalists in Aden. Jets from the Saudi-led coalition bombed Houthi positions near the airport.
Further west, Houthi fighters entered a coastal military base overlooking the Red Sea's strategic Bab el-Mandeb strait, local officials said, when soldiers of the 17th Armoured Division opened the gates to the facility.
In the southern city of Dhalea, residents reported heavy fighting, with southern secessionist fighters trading artillery fire with Houthis backed up by army units loyal to Saleh.
In the east of the country, on the border between Shabwa and Marib province, at least 15 Houthi gunmen and their allies were killed in a clash with tribal fighters, local sources said.
Meanwhile repeated air strikes hit Houthi and allied positions, including an ammunition store at a military base, which caused huge explosions. An eyewitness said nine southern fighters were killed, along with around 30 Houthi and allied fighters.
For the first time since the Saudi led coalition began its operations, jets bombed renegade troops in the Shia-populated city of Dhamar, a stronghold of the Houthis south of the capital Sanaa. Huge blasts were heard overnight in Sanaa when coalition forces hit a missile depot belonging to the renegade Republican Guard, which is loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Early in the morning, air strikes targeted two camps held by Houthi fighters and allied Republican Guard soldiers in the southern town of Al-Dali.
At least 10 people were killed and 32 wounded when a Saudi-led airstrike hit a gas tanker and oil pumps in Ibb province, in central Yemen. Air strikes also targeted the camp of the 131 Infantry Brigade in Saada and Houthi positions in the cities of Taiz and Hodeidah. Over the past few days, air strikes have targeted at least nine of Yemen's 21 provinces.
Saudi Arabia as been leading a coalition of Arab states since last Thursday in an air campaign against the Shi'ite Houthis, who emerged as the most powerful force in the Arabian Peninsula's poorest country when they seized Yemen's capital last year. The Saudis say their aim is to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who left the country last week. The Houthis are backed by army units loyal to longtime ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was pushed out three years ago after "Arab Spring" demonstrations.
Sofar the coalition airstrikes also made tens of civilian casualties. Right in the beginning of the bomb raids, tens of people were killed in the vicinity of Sanaa airport. On Monday a Yemeni security source said 45 people were killed in an airstrike of the coalition’s aircraft on an internally displaced (IDP) camp in Hajja Province in western Yemen. The source said in statement published in the Houthi controlled Defense Ministry (26 September website) “the Saudi planes targeted one of the four IDP camps in Haradh Directorate, leading to death and wounding of a number of the camp residents.”
The source said the air strike targeted camp number (1) in al-Marzaq area which contains 4 thousand IDPs killing and martyring over 40 people including women and children and wounding more than 250 persons.
The Houthi “Al-Masira” channel has said earlier that the Saudi led “storm of resolve” operation targeted an IDP camp in Haradh Directorate in Hajja Province in North West Yemen resulting in dead and wounded.
The channel ensured in a breaking news that dozens of martyrs and wounded fell in an offensive Saudi American air strike which targeted an IDP camp in al-Marzaq area in Hajja. Al-Marzaq is administratively affiliated to Haradh Directorate which is near the Saudi borders. The camp contains families from several Directorates in Sada (north) who have fled years ago the fighting between the Houthis and the government forces.

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