Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen capital resume, airport shut: residents



CAIRO A Saudi-led military coalition conducted air strikes on the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Tuesday for the first time in five months, residents said, after U.N.-backed peace talks to end the conflict broke down over the weekend.

The Saudi-led coalition is backing Yemeni forces loyal to the exiled government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi who are trying to oust Iran-allied Houthi forces from Sanaa.

The coalition also forced the suspension of flights into Sanaa International Airport for 72 hours from late on Monday, an airport official and aid agency sources said. A spokesman for the coalition did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on the closure of the airport.

The air strikes hit a presidential compound and military base in Sanaa as well as a Republican Guard base in the Arhab area near the airport, residents said. Pro-government forces are trying to advance into the city from the north and east.

On Sunday night the Saudi-led coalition killed nine civilians in an air strike outside Sanaa.

Saudi Arabia and its mostly Gulf Arab allies intervened in Yemen’s civil war in March 2015 after the armed Houthi movement had pushed the Hadi administration into exile in Saudi Arabia.

The coalition has launched thousands of air attacks on the Houthis and their allies in Yemen’s army, but paused the strikes on Sanaa in March after reaching an informal agreement with the Houthis to tamp down combat on the Yemeni-Saudi border.

Imposing a near-blockade aimed at weapons shipments to the Houthis, the coalition had mostly allowed Sanaa airport to operate civilian and humanitarian aid flights since March.

(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Noah Browning; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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