Sana’a, AP—Saudi-led airstrikes targeted weapons caches in Yemen’s rebel-held capital on Monday in an intensification of the four-week campaign against Houthi rebels in the country.
The assault was the most powerful seen in the city since the Saudi-led air campaign against the Iran-allied Shi’ite rebels began last month.
Mushroom clouds rose over Fag Atan, in the mountainous outskirts of Sana’a, where the capital’s largest weapons caches are located. The site has been targeted several times in the Saudi-led air campaign.
A Yemeni official said the Saudi-led warplanes are hoping to uncover and destroy Scud missiles. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Saudi Arabia and several of its allies, mainly Gulf Arab countries, launched the airstrikes on March 26, hoping to roll back the rebels, who seized Sana’a in September and have overrun large parts of the country with the help of security forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Western governments and Sunni Arab countries say the Houthis get arms from Iran. Iran and the rebels deny that, however.
Rebel leader Abdul Malek Al-Houthi struck a defiant tone on Sunday, saying that “the great Yemeni people will never surrender and never be subjugated.”
Fighting meanwhile intensified in the southern port city of Aden, where the Houthis and Saleh loyalists are battling youth militias and forces loyal to President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who fled the country last month in the face of the Houthi advance.
The Houthis and their allies have been trying to take over Aden for weeks. On Monday, heavy fighting erupted near the airport and in the central Al-Arish district between the rebels and local armed groups formed by residents to defend their neighborhoods, witnesses said.
Airstrikes targeted a hotel in Aden suspected of being used by the Houthis and allied forces. There was no word on casualties.
In remarks published in his newspaper Yemen Today, the ousted Saleh denied striking an alliance with the Houthis or that the rebels are in full control of the army.
“We discussed the alliance after the Saudi assault on our country, and it has not materialized so far,” Saleh said.
He also pledged to “be positive” in dealing with a UN Security Council resolution adopted last Tuesday calling on Yemen’s rivals to end the violence and return to UN-led peace talks.
The Security Council resolution makes no mention of the Saudi-led airstrikes but imposes an arms embargo on three leaders of the Shi’ite rebel group, as well as on Saleh and his son. It also demands that the Houthis withdraw from areas they have seized, including Sana’a, and relinquish arms and missiles seized from military and security institutions.