Sana'a (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Arab coalition against Shiite Houthi led by Saudi Arabia have bombed rebel militias in the city of Taiz, the third most important city in Yemen.
The attack came just hours after the announcement of the end of the air raids, confirmed by the Saudi Ministry of Defense but, in reality, immediately rejected.
The air raids are targeting the military base of Taiz, controlled by an army unit loyal to the last president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. Local sources speak of fighting also in Aden, Huta (capital of the province of Lahj) and in the city of Daleh.
On the other side the Shiite Houthi rebels have called for an end to all attacks of the Saudi-led coalition, as necessary precondition for opening talks requested by the United Nations. Mohammed Abdulsalam, spokesman for the rebel militias, has asked for "the end of all aggression" and "blockade" on Yemen, as a prerequisite for "the resumption of political dialogue."
The Houthi front appreciates "the positive efforts" being made by the UN and "claims to support a dialogue on a national scale." This is a boost to international diplomacy, although only last week the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution approving sanctions against rebels and demanding their immediate withdrawal from the occupied territories.
Yesterday, the Saudi government had declared the end of the military campaign in Yemen, which has lasted more than a month and aimed at restoring power to President Hadi. At the same time, the Saudi leaders announced "new measures" against the Houthis, in the case of "necessity". The military attack yesterday in Taiz did not surprise analysts and international policy experts, who expected more operations in spite of the truce.
Also yesterday, a Yemeni official said that a US drone killed at least seven al Qaeda fighters in the east. Local sources confirm that members of the terror network founded by Osama bin Laden, are taking advantage of the confusion that has arisen in Yemen, to consolidate its presence in the southeast of the country.
Since January Yemen has been the scene of a bloody internal conflict opposing the Sunni leadership, supported by Saudi Arabia, and Shiite Houthi rebels, supported by neighboring Iran.
Earlier this year the rebels took control of the capital Sana'a and placed president Hadi under house arrest.
In February, however, he managed to escape, taking refuge in the port city of Aden in the south. In late March, he decided to leave Yemen and seek refuge abroad, in conjunction with the Houthi rebel offensive - backed by army units close to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh – which reached the outskirts of Aden. Hence the decision of the Saudi-led Arab coalition, to intervene with air strikes
According to United Nations reports since 19 March, the conflict has caused the deaths of 944 people and wounded 3,487 others.