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Fighting escalates across Yemen, first air strikes on capital Sanaa

Fighting escalates across Yemen, first air strikes on capital Sanaa thumbnail

Air raids, naval shelling and ground fighting shook Yemen on Sunday in some of the most widespread combat since a Saudi-led alliance intervened last month against Iranian-allied Houthi militia who have seized large tracts of the country.

There were at least five air strikes on military positions and an area near the presidential palace compound in the Houthi-held capital Sanaa at dawn on Sunday, while warships pounded an area near the port of the southern city of Aden, residents said.

“The explosions were so big they shook the house, waking us and our kids up. Life has really become unbearable in this city,” a Sanaa resident who gave his name as Jamal told Reuters.

The strikes on Sanaa were the first since the Saudi-led coalition said last week it was scaling back a campaign against the Houthis. But the air raids soon resumed as the Houthis’ nationwide gains had not been notably rolled back, and there has been no visible progress toward peace talks.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter and arch Sunni Muslim regional adversary of Shi’ite Muslim Iran, feels menaced by the Shi’ite Houthi advance across Yemen since last September, when the rebels captured the capital.

The Houthis later forced President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi into exile. The Saudi-led intervention aims to restore Hadi and prevent Yemen disintegrating as a state, with al Qaeda militants thriving in the chaos and one of the world’s busiest oil shipping lanes off the Yemeni coast at risk.

Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan visited King Fahd airbase in Saudi Arabia’s Taif on Sunday and reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the Saudi-led coalition.

“Our only choice is victory in the test of Yemen,” the official WAM news agency quoted him as saying.


Fighters loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh have been battling alongside the Houthi rebels.

In London, Yemeni Foreign Minister Riyadh Yaseen rejected a call for peace talks issued by Saleh on Friday and said the Saudi-led military operation had not ended.

“These calls are unacceptable after all of the destruction Ali Abdullah Saleh has caused. There can be no place for Saleh in any future political talks,” Yaseen told a news conference.

“There will be no deal with the Houthis whatsoever until they withdraw from areas under their control,” Yaseen said.

Eyewitnesses in Aden said foreign warships shelled Houthi emplacements around the city’s main commercial port and dockyard, the first time they had been targeted.

Aden residents reported heavy clashes between local armed militia from Yemen’s Sunni south and Houthis backed up by army units loyal to Saleh.

Sources in the militia said they retaliated for the first time with tank and Katyusha rocket fire. Air strikes backed up local militia in clashes near Aden’s international airport.

In the southern province of Dalea, militia said they had fought for hours to retake several rural districts from the Houthis with the help of air strikes. The fighting left around 25 Houthis and six local militiamen dead.

A grouping of armed tribesmen and Sunni Islamist fighters in the strategically important central Yemeni city of Taiz took back several districts from the Houthis in heavy fighting, according to residents there.

Medics reported that four civilians were killed when a rocket landed in a street and shelling damaged a main hospital.

The battlefield setbacks for the Houthis occurred in an area they held largely unopposed for more than a month, and suggest that the air campaign has emboldened armed opposition groups.

Other air strikes hit Houthi bastions in Saada province along Yemen’s northern border with Saudi Arabia, and Saudi ground forces also shelled the city of Haradh in neighbouring Hajja province, residents said.

Iran’s navy chief said on Sunday that it would keep warships in the Gulf of Aden for at least several months, a stance that could harden U.S. concerns about Tehran trying to supply advanced weapons to the Houthis.

Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, quoted by the state news agency IRNA, said the ships had deployed to protect shipping routes against piracy. The Islamic Republic denies giving military support to the Houthis.

The United States sent an aircraft carrier and a missile cruiser to support seven U.S. warships already near the Gulf of Aden this week, and warned Iran not to send weapons to Yemen that could be used to threaten shipping traffic.



15 Comments on "Fighting escalates across Yemen, first air strikes on capital Sanaa"

  1. paulo1 on Mon, 27th Apr 2015 8:01 am 

    I have a few questions. This is about KSA vrs. Iran and filling a void after Iraq was dismembered by USA and coalition. Iran has been fighting for decades, directly against Iraq and as proxy fighers throughout the region. KSA has weapons that only big money can buy. They fund terrorists. But can they actually fight? I think Iran might whip their ass in a real shooting war and KSA will ask for help?

    This might be the beginning of a messy ME endgame.

  2. keith on Mon, 27th Apr 2015 9:11 am 

    I wonder if this is why we saw the oil price slide last fall? KSA agreement with USA for help against a threat. If the U.S. Military involvement escalates, then it was paid for by KSA through $50 dollar oil.

  3. BobInget on Mon, 27th Apr 2015 10:42 am 

    “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste”

    ” The most remarkable feature of this historical moment on Earth is not that we are on the way to destroying the world- we’ve actually been on the way for quite a while. It is that we are beginning to wake up, as from a millennia-long sleep, to a whole new relationship to our world to ourselves and each other.” Joanna Macy
    The phrase “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste” was coined by Paul Romer, American economist.

    Yemen’s humanitarian disaster has been pre-empted by Nepal’s continuing series of devastating earthquakes.
    Saudi Royals are taking advantage of the lull in Mideast news coverage to continue it’s murderous missions on poverty stricken Yemen.

    Editors of these web pages are not so easily distracted. continues make documents
    of Saudi war crimes freely available to all.

    That House of Saud doomed itself is no great loss. Another ultra right wing power group, will replace Royals. Possibly al Qaeda, IS or mixed Islamic groups fight among themselves, eventually rule Saudi Arabia’s oil wealth.

    Al-Qaeda needs to finance it’s ‘projects’. If Saudi Royal sponsors abdicate to France,
    that source of oil money dries up. Then…
    The Big Prize is Saudi Arabia’s oil itself.

    Oil wealth and massive arms stocks, including I’m certain, Pakistani nuclear weapons, like a 100 watt bulb draws insects, pulls Islamic fighters and so called terrorists organizations into this fight.

    If IS or similar powers are successful in Saudi Arabia, what then?

    ( Watch for growing unrest inside KSA as this war drags on for years)

  4. Plantagenet on Mon, 27th Apr 2015 11:07 am 

    There really isn’t much difference between IS and KSA. Both are sunni and both support Sharia Law. ISIS wants to reestablish the Caliphate in Damascus and KSA thinks the center of the Islamic world is in Mecca, but other than that they are on the same page.

  5. Davy on Mon, 27th Apr 2015 11:33 am 

    Planter one is interconnected with the global system the other rouge. Both seek power and control. Lumping them together just because they are Sunni and have similar religious beliefs and religious hate is poor geopolitical commenting. Other than that you sound right planter.

  6. Plantagenet on Mon, 27th Apr 2015 12:16 pm 

    Daver—much of the funding for al qaida prior to 9/11 came from Saudi, and much of the funding for the Sunni rebels in Syria (including ISIS) came from KSA.

    Ignoring the commonalities between the Sunni in KSA and the Sunni who make up IS and al Qaida is poor geopolotical commentating on your part.

    Other than that you sound right—-by the way, which one is rouge—KSA or IS?

  7. Davy on Mon, 27th Apr 2015 12:54 pm 

    Planter that news is old news anyone with a brain on this site is aware of. It is unclear what channels this money is flowing from or flowed from in the murky KSA world.

    You lump everyone together in typical slop in and you gets some planter slop out. What you fail to understand is despite the undetermined funding sources both sides are vying for power and control of the Sunnis just as Iran and KSA are vying for power. Then throw in the west, China, Russia, and others and you get a complicated mix of competing power plays. Got that Planter?


  8. BobInget on Mon, 27th Apr 2015 1:22 pm 

    This revolt is only the beginning. (of the end)

    4,000 Saudi Forces Flee Rather a Than Fight In Yeman Assault

    Thousands of Saudi Forces Flee Bases. Refuse to Participate in Ground Assault on Yemen

    Almost 4,000 Saudi forces fled their border bases in anticipation of Riyadh’s order for launching a ground assault on Yemen, European diplomatic sources said on Sunday.

    “The intel gathered by the western intelligence agencies showed that the Saudi military forces have fled their bases, military centers and bordering checkpoints near Yemen in groups,” diplomatic sources were quoted as saying by Iraq’s Arabic-language Nahrain Net news website.

    The European sources said that the Saudi forces’ mass AWOL forced Riyadh to declare ceasefire and dissuaded it from launching ground attacks against Yemen.

    Other reports also said that over 10,000 soldiers from different Saudi military units have fled the army battalions and the National Guard.

    Experts believe that the Saudi army lacks strong morale to launch a ground invasion of Yemen and such an attack would be considered as a suicide for Saudi Arabia.

    Saudi Arabia has been striking Yemen for 32 days now to restore power to fugitive president Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. The Saudi-led aggression has so far killed at least 3,005 Yemenis, including hundreds of women and children.

    Hadi stepped down in January and refused to reconsider the decision despite calls by Ansarullah revolutionaries of the Houthi movement.

    Despite Riyadh’s claims that it is bombing the positions of the Ansarullah fighters, Saudi warplanes are flattening residential areas and civilian infrastructures.

    On Tuesday the monarchy declared end to Yemen airstrikes after four weeks of bombings, but airstrikes are still underway.

  9. Plantagenet on Mon, 27th Apr 2015 2:16 pm 

    32 days of airstrikes by the Saudis is nothing. The US spent years doing drone attacks in Yemen until the Houthi overran the US base in Yemen.

  10. Davy on Mon, 27th Apr 2015 3:38 pm 

    Bobby, great post! The KSA army has always been suspect for moral and effectiveness except for their elite forces

    KSA, theoretically could spread roomers the Americans are in Yemen burning books. That get those boys pissed. They could then issues a fatwa to put a stop to the book burning and get their butts into Yemen if they want access to virgins. Likewise roomers could also be circulated with the Houthi.

    We could have a classic mad max-Muslim clash of pissed off young men meeting in the middle. That would be the mother of all battles and put this thing to bed. All parties dead or injured. Much cheaper than ineffective air power and drones.

  11. shortonoil on Mon, 27th Apr 2015 4:25 pm 

    “I wonder if this is why we saw the oil price slide last fall?”

    WTI prices started their descent in June 2014; inventories did not start to increase until November. The Saudis had nothing to do with the price decline. The market was pricing in what it saw as weakening demand. Evidently they were correct, a 50% reduction in the price of crude has produced little, or no increase in demand for finished product.

  12. Steve Challis on Mon, 27th Apr 2015 4:54 pm 

    As an Australian I sometimes get just as confused by US English as Americans get by Australian English. Is ‘rouge’, used by both Davy and Plantegenet, an American spelling of rogue, or am I missing a completely different meaning?

  13. shortonoil on Mon, 27th Apr 2015 5:03 pm 


    “rouge” 1. any of various red or reddish cosmetics 2. reddish powder used for polishing jewelery, metal, etc.

  14. Plantagenet on Mon, 27th Apr 2015 5:45 pm 

    @Steve Challis

    Thats the same question I was asking Davy. I couldn’t tell if he thought one side had gone rogue or if he was saying that one side preferred pastel colors???

  15. Davy on Mon, 27th Apr 2015 7:28 pm 

    Sorry guys but I will go in the corner for being bad. Sometimes my IPhone does weird things with words. I think it is auto word check. My early morning rants are on a laptop but during the day while I am working I am commenting by iPhone which is not fun. Today I was burning native grasses so I did not have time to be good with spelling. How long do I have to stand in the corner?

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