On Saturday, the Saudi-led coalition reiterated its calls for Yemeni civilians to evacuate the Houthi stronghold of Saada, accusing the Iranian-backed militia group of “hiding” among civilians in the northwestern region, which has become the coalition’s main target for its continuous airstrikes.
Following a further 130 airstrikes directed at the Houthis since the re-establishment of Saudi-led campaign, Saudi Defense Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asiri stated at a Saturday press conference that “operations are continuing and [Houthi] leaders will be unable to hide”.
Although the Saudi-led coalition’s air campaign halted last month, it recently re-started after the Houthi militants targeted Saudi border regions Najran and Jazan.
The coalition air campaign first began on March 26, targeting the Houthi rebels and their allies – security forces loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Asiri said that 17 Houthi “mastermind” leaders were targeted in the most recent airstrikes, with the coalition also striking arms depots in Saada, near the kingdom’s border.
He also added that despite their increased focus on the north-west, the coalition is not neglecting operations in other Yemeni regions, citing the southwestern city of Aden – considered a stronghold for President Abedrabbu Mansour Hadi – as an example of another area to witness recent airstrikes.
He added: “Yemeni and Saudi citizens are equal”, urging “people who have nothing to do with the Houthis to leave Saada.”
The coalition will continue its airstrikes on Saturday night to advance their campaign against the Houthis “who hide among citizens and hospitals,” according to Asiri.
He said the coalition’s campaign has so far succeeded in preventing any rebels from crossing the Saudi border, warning that the Houthis’ decision to attack these border regions was a “mistake”.
He also cautioned the Houthis against further aggression, saying that the Saudi-proposed truce would be “cancelled” if they were not “responsive”.
Earlier on Friday, Saudi Arabia announced that a five-day ceasefire in Yemen will begin on May 12.