Saudi-led coalition launches air strikes on Yemeni capital after foiling drone attacks

The coalition detected several drones fired by the Iran-aligned Houthi movement. PHOTO: REUTERS

DUBAI (REUTERS) - The Saudi-led coalition engaged in Yemen on Sunday (March 7) said it had launched air strikes on military sites of the Iran-aligned Houthi movement in Sanaa and several other provinces, the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television channel reported.

The coalition said its operation complied with international law.

Yemen's Houthi group also said that it downed a Turkish-made reconnaissance plane belonging to the Saudi Air Force, the Iran-aligned group's Al-Masirah TV channel reported on Sunday, adding that a Houthi spokesman identified the model of the plane as a Karayel.

The Saudi-led coalition had earlier said it had destroyed drones launched by the Houthis, including at least five fired towards Saudi Arabia.

Saudi state media reported that the Saudi-led coalition said the drones were aimed at "civilian sites", without giving locations.

The United States consulate in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah issued an advisory, citing reports of suspected attacks and explosions on Sunday near Jeddah and the southern town of Khamis Mushait.

In the Houthi-held Yemeni capital Sanaa, a Reuters witness and two residents reported several air strikes. Al Masirah TV station said coalition warplanes conducted seven air raids.

There was no immediate confirmation from the coalition, which has in the past conducted air strikes on Houthi military sites in Sanaa in response to cross-border attacks.

On Saturday, the coalition said it intercepted seven drones over 24 hours launched towards Khamis Mushait and one towards the southern Saudi city of Jazan.

The Houthis, who have been battling the coalition since it intervened in Yemen's civil war in March 2015, recently stepped up cross-border missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia.

Fighting has also intensified on the ground in Yemen in Marib and Taiz regions.

The United States and the United Nations have stepped up diplomatic efforts to end the conflict, which is largely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Last week, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on two Houthi military leaders in the first punitive action against the group taken by President Joe Biden's administration.

The Houthis, who ousted the internationally recognised government from power in Sanaa in late 2014, deny being puppets of Tehran and say they are fighting a corrupt system and foreign aggression.

The war, in a military stalemate for years, has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.

Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said on Friday that Al-Thawra hospital in Taiz treated 28 people wounded in intense clashes since Wednesday and that the hospital itself was hit by gun fire, injuring three, including a 12-year-old boy.

In Marib, the government's last northern stronghold, hundreds of fighters from both sides have been killed.

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