SANAA, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) — The Saudi-led coalition, supporter of the Yemeni exiled government, launched on Wednesday two airstrikes on an air base in Yemen’s rebel-held capital Sanaa, residents said, as a UN-brokered cease-fire largely holds in the adjacent Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.
The airstrikes hit al-Daylami air base north of Sanaa, which is adjacent to the Sanaa International Airport, the Houthi-run al-Masirah TV reported.
Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television said the airstrikes destroyed a drone in Sanaa airport, which “was prepared to carry out an imminent terrorist attack.”
In response, the Houthi-controlled Saba news agency released a statement, describing the attack targeting Sanaa airport as a “crime.”
“The Wednesday coalition airstrikes targeted Sanaa International Airport under baseless pretexts, which reflects the coalition’s intentions to obstruct the United Nations efforts to reopen the airport for humanitarian purposes … (and) to end the suffering of the Yemeni people,” the statement said.
At midnight on Monday, the UN-sponsored cease-fire covering Hodeidah and the ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa entered into force, as the first confidence-rebuilding measures between the Houthi rebels and the coalition-backed government.
However, residents in Hodeidah reported sporadic skirmishes on Wednesday, as both Yemeni rival forces traded accusations of violating the truce.
The UN envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths said last week following the conclusion of Yemen’s first round of peace talks in Sweden that his team is preparing a compromise to re-open the Sanaa airport for commercial and humanitarian purposes, as part of a comprehensive political solution to ending Yemen’s nearly four years of civil war.
Sanaa airport and Hodeidah port, both under the Houthi control, are the only accesses for most commercial imports and humanitarian aid to Yemen’s north.
Sanaa airport has been closed for more than two years by the Saudi-led coalition.
Saudi Arabia has been leading an Arab military coalition in Yemen against Houthi militia since March 2015, in order to reinstate the exiled government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.