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Saudis Renew Air Strikes After Iran-Backed Rebels Attack Yemeni Troops

In response to an attack by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, Saudi Arabia resumed air strikes today against the rebels in Yemen, CNN reported. The resumption of air strikes comes less than a day after Saudi Arabia announced that it was ending the air war against the Houthis and seeking a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Yemen.

The strikes returned after rebel forces launched an attack on a government military brigade not under Houthi control, security sources in Taiz said. The brigade quickly fell to the rebels, they said.

It was unclear if the fighting represented a resumption of the operation or was a short-term resumption of hostilities.

After a month of air raids, Saudi Arabia and its allies, including Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, and Sudan, announced (Arabic link) the end of Operation Decisive Storm yesterday, claiming that all goals of the operation had been obtained, including the destruction of the Houthis’ heavy weapons and ballistic missile stockpiles. The Saudis called the operation a victory and argued that threats against Saudi Arabia and its neighbors by the rebels have been removed.

Saudi Arabia simultaneously announced (Arabic link) the beginning of a new campaign called “Renewal of Hope,” which apparently will not include any ground military operations in Yemen. It will instead focus on finding a diplomatic solution to the conflict between rebels and ousted President Abed Mansour Hadi. The spokesperson for the Arab coalition said vaguely that Saudi Arabia will continue to prevent the Houthis from carrying out their activities and will act militarily whenever it sees fit.

Hundreds of people were killed as a result of more than 2,000 air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition. The Saudis say that Hadi himself (Arabic link) requested the end of the military operation, and that he thanked the Arab states for their assistance and asked them to try and reach a diplomatic solution to the conflict. The president said that he thinks the legitimate regime will soon be able to return to Yemen’s capital Sanaa, which was captured by the rebels last September.

During the operation, the Saudi-led forces were able to destroy (Arabic link) some 80% of the weapons of the Houthi arsenal through air raids aimed primarily against Houthi bases. The bombings destroyed heavy weapons such as tanks, artillery and ballistic missiles.

However, a few hours after the declaration, Al-Arabiya news network reported (Arabic link) that armed clashes are continuing, with the Houthis taking advantage of the end of the air raids to continue fighting Hadi supporters in southern Yemen.

[Photo: U.S. Department of Defense Current Photos /Flickr ]