Chief Editor: Ansar Mahmood Bhatti

Saudi-led coalition intensifies Yemen air strikes after Saleh’s death

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ADEN, (DNA) – A Saudi-led coalition intensified air strikes on Yemen early on Wednesday as the armed Houthi movement tightened its grip on the capital after it killed former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who switched sides in the civil war.Saudi Arabia and its allies struck a day after Saleh’s son vowed to lead a campaign against the Iran-aligned Houthis.The intervention by Ahmed Ali, a former leader of the elite Republican Guard once seen as a likely successor to his father, gives the anti-Houthi movement a potential figurehead after a week of fighting that saw the Houthis rout Saleh’s supporters in the capital.

Yemen’s war, pitting the Iran-allied Houthis who control Sanaa against a Saudi-led military alliance backing a government based in the south, has brought what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Saleh had helped the Houthis win control of much of the country’s north, including Sanaa, and his decision to switch allegiances and abandon the Houthis in the past week was the most dramatic change on the battlefield in years.

But the Houthis swiftly crushed the pro-Saleh uprising in the capital and killed him.

Coalition fighter jets carried out dozens of air strikes, both sides said, bombing Houthi positions inside Sanaa and in other northern provinces. coalition bombed Saleh’s residence and other houses of his family members.

Residents told loud explosions were heard in downtown Sanaa.

Masirah said air strikes also hit northern provinces including Taiz, Haja, Midi and Saada. There was no immediate word on casualties.

In a sign of support and defiance, tens of thousands of Houthi supporters staged a rally in Sanaa on Tuesday to celebrate the death of Saleh. They chanted slogans against Saudi Arabia and its allies.

The proxy war between regional arch-rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran has already killed more than 10,000 people, with more than two million displaced. Nearly a million have been hit by a cholera outbreak and famine threatens much of the country.

The United Nations says millions of people may die in one of the worst famines of modern times, caused by warring parties blocking food supplies.

The UN Secretary-General Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, called on all parties to show restraint in a briefing to the Security Council.

“Increased hostilities will further threaten civilian lives and exacerbate their suffering,” he said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Tuesday that the killing of Saleh would, in the short term, likely worsen an already dire humanitarian situation in the country.

Mattis, speaking with reporters on a military aircraft en route to Washington after a brief trip to parts of the Middle East and South Asia, said it was too early to say what impact the killing would have on the war.

He said it could either push the conflict towards U.N. peace negotiations or make it an “even more vicious war.”