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Yemen FM Urges Quick End to Saudi-led Strikes

by Edward Yeranian March 27, 2015

Yemen's foreign minister, Riyadh Yasin, says that airstrikes being carried out by a Saudi-led coalition against the country's Shi'ite Houthi rebels that have seized control over large swaths of the country should weaken the group, and end quickly.

Coalition warplanes pounded military bases and other rebel-held targets in and around the capital, Sana'a, Friday, according to officials and witnesses. Military officials also said airstrikes targeted the northern province of Saada, home to the Houthi rebels.

The goal of the operation, being conducted by 10 countries, including five Gulf monarchies, is to defeat the Iran-backed Houthi rebels and reinstall Yemen's internationally recognized government.

Some two dozen civilians are believed to have been killed in the ongoing wave of airstrikes; video from the scene showed the bodies of children pulled from the rubble.

Witnesses say Arab fighter jets struck at parts of the presidential palace complex in the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, destroying a number of buildings. Coalition planes also were reported to have struck a Houthi radar installation in Maarib province and an airbase in Abyane province.

The commander of the Saudi-led operation insisted that airstrikes are being conducted with precision, dismissing evidence of civilian casualties.

He says that at the present time there no troops are being deployed on the ground, but if the need arises, Saudi ground troops, as well as those of friends and allies, are ready and will respond to any aggression of any kind.

Foreign Minister Yasin said he hoped the Arab air operation would accomplish its goals quickly.

He says that the operation is intended to save Yemen and includes all regions controlled by the Houthis as well as camps controlled by supporters of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Internationally-recognized President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who left the southern Yemeni city of Aden several days ago eventually surfacing in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, is due to attend a weekend summit of Arab leaders in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Iran, which denies it is providing funding or training for the Shi'ite Houthis, has slammed the Saudi-led offensive as a dangerous step that it says will only worsen the situation in Yemen.

On Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called for an end to the airstrikes, saying that what Yemen needs is dialogue and national reconciliation.

Rebel leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi on Thursday blasted Saudi Arabia, as well as the United States, which is offering 'logistical and intelligence support' to the offensive.

'The foolish, stupid, unjust, oppressive and arrogant Saudi regime has gambled [on the support of] America and gambled on some other regimes, which it paid to buy their support,' the rebel leader said.

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