Saudi-led warplanes pounded rebel positions in the Yemeni capital on Tuesday, an AFP correspondent said, reporting powerful explosions across Sanaa. Witnesses said targets included the police academy and the headquarters of the security services, both in the heart of the capital which has been controlled by the Houthi rebels since September last year. Overnight strikes also hit the Sanaa residences of Houthi leaders, witnesses said.
The strikes followed reports that Gulf Arab members of the Saudi-led coalition had sent thousands of heavily armed reinforcements to Yemen after a Houthi missile attack killed 60 coalition soldiers on Friday. Forty-five soldiers from the United Arab Emirates' and five troops from Bahrain have been killed on Friday when a Houthi missile hit a weapons storage depot near their position in the province of Maarib, about 120km east of the capital Sanaa, the UAE state news agency WAM reported late on Friday. Lateron it was reported that also 10 Saudi troops were killed. Officials from the Houthi media office in Sanaa confirmed a Soviet-era Tochka missile was fired at the site.
At least five other Emirati soldiers have been killed in Yemen since the offensive began. Emirati ground forces and hardware have been playing an increasingly prominent role in the conflict in recent weeks, though officials have not made clear the full extent of their role or the numbers of troops involved. The additional troops, most of them from Qatar and Saudi Arabia, were deployed to the battleground eastern oil province of Marib where the attack took place, the reports said.
The coalition launched its air war against the rebels when President Abd Rabbou Mansour Hadi fled to neighbouring Saudi Arabia in March after they entered his last refuge, Yemen's second city Aden. After his loyalists recaptured the southern port city in July, the coalition launched a ground operation which has seen the rebels pushed back from five southern provinces, although they still control the capital Sanaa and much of the north and centre.