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Coalition warships secure Yemen ports: Saudi Defense Ministry
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Saudi Defense Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asiri briefs reporters at the Riyadh Air Base, Saudi Arabia, on March 30, 2015. (SPA)

Saudi Defense Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asiri briefs reporters at the Riyadh Air Base, Saudi Arabia, on March 30, 2015. (SPA)

Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Warships from the Saudi-led Arab coalition targeting the Houthi movement in Yemen have successfully secured all the country’s ports, Saudi Arabia’s Defense Ministry said on Monday.

In his daily briefing to reporters, Defense Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asiri said coalition warships had implemented a sea blockade of all Yemen’s ports, cutting off all entry and exit points.

He added that the ongoing air campaign had also destroyed a cache of ballistic missiles and mortar bombs and destroyed a group of tanks the Houthis were moving toward the southern port city of Aden.

In addition to military supplies and equipment, coalition airstrikes are also targeting the movement of Houthi militias and leading figures within the movement, Asiri said, also adding that the air campaign would be intensified within the coming days.

In answer to a question regarding reports that coalition warplanes had accidentally targeted a refugee camp just outside Sana’a, Asiri said that coalition warplanes had come under anti-aircraft missile attacks from the area and were thereby forced to respond, adding that Houthi militias have been deploying their forces in a number of civilian areas.

“Coalition forces are working extremely hard to avoid these kinds of incidents and are working to accurately specify targets and make sure they are empty of civilians before launching any attacks,” he said.

The Saudi-led offensive, dubbed Operation Decisive Storm, is now in its sixth day, and involves aircraft and ships from a number of regional countries including Gulf Cooperation Council members Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE, as well as regional allies Egypt, Sudan, Morocco and Jordan.

Observers expect the air offensive could soon be beefed up with ground troops in order to fully quell the Houthi coup. Asiri did not rule out a ground operation.

He said: “When we need to introduce ground troops, we will deploy them accordingly and announce this openly—we have nothing to hide.”

In addition to Saudi Arabia’s Arab allies, Pakistan has also offered to join the coalition against the Houthis. Asiri confirmed Islamabad would be sending troops to the Kingdom to coordinate with their Saudi counterparts.