Saudis bomb Yemen hours after calling off air strikes

April 23, 2015 07:57
Smoke rises from a bombing target of Saudi-led air strikes in Yemen just hours after Riyadh announced an end to the bombing campaign. Photo: ABC News

Saudi fighter jets struck parts of Yemen Wednesday just hours after Riyadh announced a halt to a coalition bombing campaign.

Renewed fighting erupted on the ground between rebels and forces loyal to exiled president Mansour Hadi, Reuters reported Thursday.

The hostilities underlined difficulty in finding a political solution to a war that is stirring animosities between rival Gulf powers Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Tuesday's announcement by Riyadh that it would end almost a month of air strikes against the Iranian-allied Houthis drew positive responses from the White House and Tehran.

But hours later, air strikes and ground fighting resumed.

The International Red Cross described the humanitarian situation as "catastrophic."

The rebel Houthi movement said it wanted a return to United Nations peace talks but only after a complete halt to air strikes

Meanwhile, Houthi fighters captured an army base loyal to Hadi in the city of Taiz.

A Saudi air strike hit the headquarters shortly afterwards, residents said.

Coalition planes later hit rebel positions in southern Yemen with 12 more air strikes, residents said.

Also in southern Yemen, pro-Hadi militiamen fought against the Houthis and their army allies loyal to powerful former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Residents in the port of Aden reported tank shelling and automatic gunfire.

Yemen's south has been a bulwark of resistance against the Houthi advance and locals expressed dismay at the end to Saudi strikes, which had supported their forces.

"The decision was strange and totally unexpected. Our fighters had made gains but needed more Saudi air support; now we hear the Houthis and Saleh's people are advancing in many places," said Aden resident Saleh Salem Ba Aqeel.

In Washington, Saudi ambassador Adel al-Jubeir made clear that the bombing campaign was not entirely over and warned of a fresh Houthi assault on Aden "from three sides."

He told reporters the Saudis would continue to use force "to stop them from taking Yemen over by aggressive action".

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