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Yemen: Saudi-led coalition said it struck 'secret' Iranian military site in Sanaa

Attack is latest in a series of coalition air raids on capital as Houthis advance on government's last stronghold in the north
Smoke rises from the site of Saudi-led air strikes in Sanaa, Yemen, on 27 November 2021 (Reuters)

The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen said it had struck a "secret" site belonging to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) as it launched air raids on the capital Sanaa.

State TV quoted the coalition on Tuesday as saying it had hit the Iranian site while bombing "legitimate" targets belonging to Houthi fighters in the capital.

The coalition asked civilians not to gather around or approach potential targets.

The Houthis' main broadcaster, Al Masirah TV, said three air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition had hit Sanaa airport, while a fourth raid targeted a park.

The raids are one of several the coalition has carried out this month over the densely populated capital city of Sanaa.

Marib offensive

The Houthis have repeatedly launched cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia using drones and missiles since the coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after the movement ousted the Saudi-backed government from the capital.

Although the Houthis initially had little or no links with Iran, the conflict is widely seen to have developed into a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic.

The Houthis are pressing an offensive in Marib, the internationally recognised government's last northern stronghold, as well as in other areas in Yemen.

Yemen: Displaced people in Marib live on edge of disaster as Houthis advance
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Activists and aid workers have warned that the Marib offensive risked massive displacement of civilians.

Khaled al-Shajani, deputy director of the executive unit for management of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Marib, told Middle East Eye that the Houthis were engaged in "forced displacement".

"Before 2015, 450,000 people in total lived in Marib governorate. Since then, the number of IDPs alone has reached 2.2 million people.

"During the last three months, more than 93,000 more have been displaced, bringing the total to over 2.3 million displaced people in the city of Marib since 2015," he said.

In February, US President Joe Biden announced the end of US support for offensive operations by the Saudi-led coalition, in a major policy reversal from the previous administration.

However, the Biden administration approved the sale of 280 AIM-120C air-to-air missiles to Saudi Arabia earlier this month, in a deal valued at potentially $650m, a state department spokesperson told MEE.

When the state department approved the sale, a spokesman said it was "fully consistent with the administration's pledge to lead with diplomacy to end the conflict in Yemen".

The air-to-air missiles ensure "Saudi Arabia has the means to defend itself from Iranian-backed Houthi air attacks," he said.