Rebel Sites Hit as Official Yemen Airport Toll Climbs
(Bloomberg) -- A Saudi-led military coalition pounded facilities of Houthi rebels accused of a deadly assault on a Yemen airport, as the official toll from the attack climbed to 25 dead and 110 wounded.
Health Minister Qasem Buhabeh said the number of dead is likely to increase because some of the wounded are in critical condition. The airport in the southern port city of Aden was attacked on Wednesday as a new cabinet flew in from Saudi Arabia.
A deputy minister of public works was killed, and two other vice ministers were among the wounded, according to the government-run Saba news agency. Three members of the International Committee for the Red Cross were also among the dead.
Yemen President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi blamed the assault on Yemeni Houthi rebels, who have been fighting the government since 2014. On Thursday, Saudi-led coalition warplanes launched multiple airstrikes on posts of the Iran-backed rebels in the capital, Sana’a, and surrounding areas, according to the Houthis’ Al-Masirah TV.
Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik said an initial investigation showed the airport was attacked by missiles, and that intelligence information showed Iran helped the Houthis prepare for the assault.
“When we talk about the Houthis, we are talking about Iran and its sabotage agenda in the region,” Abdulmalik said, speaking at the cabinet’s first meeting in Aden.
The formation of the cabinet had been hailed as a cementing of the fragile detente between the government of the exiled Hadi and the separatist Southern Transitional Council, allies in the fight to dislodge rebels who control Sana’a and other chunks of the country. Their alliance frayed last year after separatists seized control of Aden and other southern cities, but was mended under a power-sharing deal brokered by Saudi Arabia.
Hadi’s government, which had fled to Aden after the fall of Sana’a, had been living in exile in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, since the clashes with council forces last year. The country is in the throes of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, fed by the Saudi-led coalition’s five-year attempt to crush the rebellion and prevent the establishment of a Shiite-ruled state sympathetic to Iran on the Arabian peninsula.
Yemen is strategically significant because it lies on a waterway linking the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden that is a conduit for much of the world’s oil.
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