Heavy Arab raids rock capital city

Updated: 2015-04-01 07:49

By Agencies in Sanaa and Dubai(China Daily)

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UN, Red Cross alarmed over casualties in airstrikes; Iran denies military aid to Houthis

Explosions lit up the sky above Yemen's capital as Arab coalition warplanes pounded rebel positions in the heaviest raids yet of the 6-day-old Saudi-led operation, witnesses said on Tuesday.

Huge blasts were heard overnight in Sanaa when coalition forces hit a missile depot belonging to the renegade Republican Guard, which is loyal to former strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh.

"Sanaa lived through a day of terror due to the continuous bombing from early Monday until this morning," said Assem al-Sabri, a 28-year-old resident. "We couldn't sleep from the sounds of explosions."

The blast at the missile depot rocked the southwestern district of Sanaa. Flames billowing from the site were seen by residents across most of the city.

"The bombing was the heaviest I have ever heard in my life. The explosions lit up the skies of Sanaa," said another resident, 30-year-old Amr al-Amrani.

Airstrikes targeted two camps held by Shiite Houthi rebels and allied Republican Guard soldiers in Daleh early on Tuesday.

Columns of smoke rose from the area, witnesses said.

Heavy Arab raids rock capital city

Coalition warplanes also raided an air base belonging to a Republican Guard brigade in the southwestern city of Taez, witnesses there said.

For the first time since the coalition operation began, warplanes also bombed renegade troops in the Shiite-populated city of Dhammar, a stronghold of the Houthi rebels south of Sanaa.

They also hit another arms depot north of the capital, according to witnesses.

The UN human rights office and the international Red Cross said they are alarmed by the high civilian causalities in the violence in Yemen.

Tuesday's statement from Geneva said UN human rights staffers in Yemen have verified that at least 19 civilians died when airstrikes hit a refugee camp in northern Yemen, with at least 35 wounded, including 11 children.

The Saudi-led coalition has vowed to keep up the raids until the rebels abandon their insurrection against President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who has fled to Riyadh.

The alliance will pursue an offensive against Houthi forces opposed to President Hadi until Yemen is stable, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said in remarks published on Tuesday.

Iran's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday denied assisting the Yemeni Shiite militants with arms.

"Claims about the dispatching of weapons from the Islamic Republic of Iran to Yemen are completely fabricated and sheer lies," Press TV quoted spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham as saying.

AFP - Reuters - AP - Xinhua

(China Daily 04/01/2015 page12)