Coalition warplanes hit Yemen rebels: witnesses


Sanaa (AFP)

Warplanes from the Saudi-led coalition have hit rebel positions outside the Yemeni capital Sanaa, witnesses said Friday, after the alliance accused insurgents of breaching a shaky ceasefire.

The air strikes late Thursday targeted positions of the Iran-backed Huthi insurgents at Jebel al-Nabishuaib, on the southwestern outskirts of rebel-held Sanaa, according to witnesses.

They said the area hosts bases for air defences controlled by renegade troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is allied with the Shiite rebels.

The truce, for an initial period of three days, took effect just before midnight on Wednesday to allow aid deliveries in Yemen, where the war has killed thousands and left millions homeless and hungry.

The coalition and Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi had vowed to respect the UN-sponsored truce, but accused rebels of violations, while Huthi media accused the alliance of continuing with air strikes.

Air raids also targeted rebels in the northern provinces of Jawf and Saada, witnesses and rebel media said.

Coalition spokesman Major General Ahmed Assiri denied on Thursday that any air strikes took place in Yemen, although coalition warplanes carried out surveillance.

He said late Thursday that a Patriot missile shot down another missile fired by rebels in Marib, east of the capital Sanaa, the second in one day.

The Saudi-led Arab coalition intervened in March 2015 to support Hadi's government after the Huthis overran much of the impoverished country on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.

Five previous truce attempts failed but cautious optimism preceded the current pause after intensified international pressure following an escalation in fighting.

Nearly 6,900 people have been killed, more than half of them civilians, while another three million are displaced and millions more need food aid.