At least six civilians, including a child, have been killed and dozens wounded in Saudi-UAE led coalition air raids on residential areas and Houthi rebel military targets in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa.
Nine military sites in and around Sanaa were targeted on Thursday, residents told Reuters news agency.
The Houthi-run Masirah TV channel said six attacks on the Arhab district of Sanaa province took place, before reporting further raids, including one in Sanaa itself. It blamed “aircraft of the (Saudi-led) aggression”.
Saudi-owned broadcaster Al Arabiya quoted a coalition statement as saying the Saudi coalition had launched an operation aimed at “neutralising the ability of the Houthi militia to carry out acts of aggression.”
This comes two days after the Iran-aligned rebels claimed drone attacks that shut a key oil pipeline in neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
Witnesses told AFP news agency that raids began around 8am (0500 GMT), while many Yemenis were asleep awaiting the end at sunset of the daytime fast observed by Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan.
Nasser Arrabyee, a Yemeni journalist, said the number of casualties are expected to rise.
“Medial sources are saying that they have received a lot of victims – injured and dead – which means the number will be even higher than just six,” he told Al Jazeera from Sanaa.
Arrabyee said “residential areas in the middle of Sanaa, in the most crowded areas were randomly bombed and many houses were reduced to the ground”.
Calls for retaliation
On Tuesday, the Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for twin drone attacks on Saudi Arabia’s main east-west oil pipeline, saying that they were a response to “crimes” committed by Riyadh during the bloody air war it has led in Yemen since March 2015.
The pipeline, which can carry five million barrels of crude per day, provides a strategic alternative route for Saudi exports if the shipping lane from the Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz is closed.
Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the vital conduit for global oil supplies in case of a military confrontation with the United States.
The Saudi cabinet called on Wednesday for “confronting terrorist entities which carry out such sabotage acts, including the Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen.”
Key ally the United Arab Emirates echoed the call.
“We will retaliate and we will retaliate hard when we see Huthis hitting civilian targets like what happened in Saudi Arabia,” the UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said on Wednesday.
Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in Yemen when President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi fled into Saudi exile as the rebels closed in on his last refuge in Yemen’s second city Aden after sweeping through most of the country.
The intervention has retaken much of the south but the capital and most of the populous central highlands remain in rebel hands.