Saudi strikes Yemen rebels as Iran warns of 'dangerous step'

Sanaa, Mar 27: Warplanes from a Saudi-led coalition bombed Huthi Shiite rebels on March 26 in support of Yemen's embattled president, who headed to an Arab summit to garner support as Iran warned the intervention was "dangerous".

Defiant rebel leader Abdulmalik al-Huthi slammed the intervention as "unjustified", calling in a televised address for supporters to confront the "criminal oppressive aggression".  [Yemen crisis: All details explained]


President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi arrived in Riyadh, with officials saying he was on his way to Egypt to take part in a two-day Arab League summit starting on Saturday.

It was the first confirmation of Hadi's whereabouts since the rebels began advancing this week the main southern city of Aden, where the president had been holed up since fleeing the rebel-controlled capital Sanaa last month. [White House concerned about Iranian weapons in Yemen]

Their advance raised Saudi fears the Shiite minority rebels would seize control of the whole of its Sunni-majority neighbour and take it into the orbit of Shiite Iran.

Saudi Arabia launched the air strikes before dawn Thursday, saying it had assembled a coalition of more than 10 countries, including five Gulf monarchies.

The Saudi ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir, said the coalition stood ready to do "whatever it takes" to protect Hadi's government.

On the eve of the regional summit in Egypt, Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi also declared full support for the strikes following a "coup".

But Iran reacted with fury, condemning the intervention as "a dangerous step" that violated "international responsibilities and national sovereignty".

President Hassan Rouhani said it amounted to "military aggression" and "condemned all military intervention in the internal affairs of independent nations".

After hitting targets overnight in Sanaa and elsewhere, the coalition launched fresh strikes late today, hitting a rebel-held base in third city Taez and the airport and an arms depot in the Huthis' northern stronghold, officials and witnesses said.

Powerful explosions had been heard earlier in Sanaa as warplanes pounded an air base adjacent to the international airport and other locations, an AFP correspondent reported. Sanaa families streamed out of the capital seeking the relative safety of the provinces.


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