AL-MUKALLA: The Arab coalition supporting the internationally recognized government of Yemen struck on Saturday early morning military sites controlled by the Iran-backed Houthis in the capital, Sanaa.
Residents reported hearing several large explosions that triggered subsequent blasts and balls of fire across Sanaa.
The coalition said in a statement that the airstrikes targeted secret underground tunnels in the presidential palace used for storing ballistic missiles and other military locations.
Drone workshops and weapons depots in Sanaa’s Dhahban district were also targeted, the coalition said, asking residents to avoid approaching those areas.
Residents described the airstrikes on early Saturday as the “longest and most intensive” in years.
On Friday, the coalition released satellite images of an airstrike on a ballistic missile while the Houthis were moving it from a secret depot to a launching area. During the last five days, the Arab coalition has intensified airstrikes on military camps and other areas in Houthi-held Sanaa with the aim of destroying ballistic missiles, explosives-rigged drones and other weapons.
Last week, the Arab coalition accused the Houthis of turning the airport in Sanaa into a military facility by testing an air defense system there.
In Marib province, the Arab coalition carried out many air raids in support of government troops on the ground during the past 24 hours, hitting Houthi military reinforcements.
This came as government troops on Friday and Saturday engaged in heavy clashes with Houthis in Juba and Thana, south of Yemen, with no information about gains for either side.
The Yemeni government announced that it had pushed back Houthi attacks in Juba after killing and wounding dozens of Houthis.
For the last couple of months, the Houthis have ratcheted up military pressure on government troops defending Marib in a bid to advance toward the city.
Thousands of combatants and civilians have been killed in Marib province since February when the Houthis renewed an offensive to control the energy-rich Marib city.
The Houthi military pressure on Marib was alleviated during the last seven days when the Joint Forces on the country’s west coast launched an offensive, targeting the Houthis in strategic areas in the provinces of Taiz and Hodeidah.
The Joint Forces seized control of Hays district in Hodeidah and pushed deeper into Houthi-controlled territory, seizing parts of Maqbanah in Taiz and Al-Jarahi in Hodeidah.
On Saturday, the Joint Forces’ Giants Brigades announced they had seized control of part of Saqoum valley and a number of hilly terrains north of Maqbanah in Taiz after heavy clashes with the Houthis.
The latest advances by the Joint Forces have prompted the Houthis into sending their leaders to densely populated provinces under their control to incite people to join the battlefields.
The Houthi official media reported that Abdul Rahman Al-Jamai, deputy speaker of the Houthi-controlled parliament and governor of Ibb, on Friday called for a general mobilization of forces to reinforce the battlefields with fighters, funds and weapons.
Concluding a visit to Moscow on Friday, UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg repeated concerns over the impact of the escalating fighting between government troops and the Houthis in Marib, Taiz and Hodeidah provinces on civilians and peace efforts. He urged warring factions to stop hostilities and work on achieving a comprehensive and inclusive peace deal to end the war.
“We are facing a potential military escalation that will only increase the suffering of civilians. Increased international efforts are essential to convince all sides of the need to settle disagreements at the negotiation table,” Grundberg said in a statement.