Saudi Arabia bombed the northern stronghold of Yemen’s rebels and key military installations on Friday, the second day of a campaign that military officials said was aimed at neutralising air defences ahead of a possible ground invasion.
The raids that began on Thursday are aimed at halting the advance of the Iran-backed Houthis, who have allied with a powerful former president and seized the capital and several provinces.
The air strikes have struck at least six provinces, including one rich in oil and gas.
UAE warplanes “intensively” participated in the air strikes against the rebels and their allies in Yemen on Friday, the Saudi-led coalition spokesman said.
All members of the Arab coalition contributed to the operation but “Emirati air forces participated intensively”, Ahmed Assiri told reporters in Riyadh. The coalition air strikes have destroyed nearly 40 per cent of Yemen’s air defences, including radar installations, according to Yemeni Brig. Gen. Saleh Al Subaihi. The strikes have also hindered the ability of the Houthis and military units loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh to send reinforcements to the main front in the south, he said.
Retired army officer Nasser Al Marqashi said he expects the air strikes to continue for a week to weaken the air defences before a ground offensive, which would likely be launched from the port city of Aden, former capital of the once-independent south, or the country’s sparsely populated far east. President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has supporters in both areas.
Three Egyptian security officials said troops would invade from Saudi Arabia and land on Yemen’s coast.