Coalition air raids target Yemeni capital again after talks fail

Saudi-led coalition resume air strikes against Houthi rebels.

Smoke rises after Saudi-led airstrikes hit a factory in Sanaa, Yemen, on August 9,  2016.  Hani Mohammed / Associated Press
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SANAA // Saudi-led coalition warplanes have resumed air strikes on Yemen’s capital for the first time in three months.

The coalition, which includes the UAE, intervened in March last year after Shiite Houthi rebels and allied forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh overran Sanaa the previous September, driving out the internationally recognised government.

Coalition spokesman General Ahmed Assiri confirmed the air strikes against the rebels had restarted and led to the closure of Sanaa airport, saying warplanes hit military targets “around” the city.

Medics in the capital said 14 people were killed in the coalition strikes, which residents said hit a food factory in central Sanaa.

The raids come less than 72 hours after more than three months of UN-brokered peace talks in Kuwait were suspended following the appointment by the rebels and their allies of a council to run Yemen.

The talks made no headway, but UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed refused to call the negotiations a failure and said he would continue to consult with both sides to arrange further meetings.

A ceasefire that started on April 11 failed to hold as the sides traded accusations of violations.

Gen Assiri said the coalition had respected the truce for three months but had resumed operations because of increased violations by the rebels and the failure of the Kuwait talks.

In July, the rebels rejected a UN peace plan and announced the creation of the governing council whose 10 members they named on Saturday.

Coalition aircraft have also been targeting Al Qaeda and ISIL.

A security official said on Tuesday that air strikes by the coalition have forced Al Qaeda out of Azzan, a key town in the southern province of Shabwa.

*Agence France-Presse