By Arab News
The Saudi-led coalition said it was behind two air raids Monday on the office of the presidency in Yemen’s rebel-held capital, which were reported to have killed six people and wounded dozens.
The intelligence-led strikes targeted a meeting of “first- and second-rank Houthi leaders” in Sanaa, coalition spokesman Turki Al-Maliki said in the Saudi capital Riyadh.
Maliki said the air raids represented “a painful act” for the Iran-allied Houthis, whose administration uses the presidential office.
“Houthi militias contiunue to obstruct access to ships carrying aid for and have stopped 17 ships so far,” he said, adding “Houthi militias also shelled a rehabilitation center for children in the southern governate of Marib.”
Al-Maliki went on to say that Houthi militias hinder the operations of UN organizations to provide vaccines to the Yemeni people.
The Saudi-led coalition spokesperson also noted that several Houthi leaders have been killed in Al-Bayda governate and near the Saudi border and 107 Houthi sites have been destroyed inside Yemen. He also said the top Houthi commanders targeted were on the most wanted list and the raid on the Presidential Palace in Sanaa on Monday targeted senior Houthi leaders.
The rebels expelled pro-government forces from Sanaa in September 2014 and went on to seize swathes of the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country.
Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has spent the past three years in exile in Saudi Arabia, and the southern port city of Aden has been his government’s de facto capital.
The Saudi-led coalition has been fighting the rebels since 2015 to shore up Hadi’s internationally recognized government.
A medical source said there were six people killed and at least 30 others wounded in Monday’s attack.
The rebels’ Al-Masirah television channel said the six included a child, and that 86 people had been wounded.
Witnesses said the presidential office, located in the Tahrir district of Sanaa, is normally bustling with employees of the Houthi rebels.
Residents living close to the presidential office said they heard two powerful explosions hit the building, located near a hotel, shops, and not far from the central bank.
“We were working next door to the presidential offices and heard a plane, and then an explosion,” Ahmed Dehashir, a first responder, said at the scene of the attack.
The strikes came hours after Saudi Arabia’s air defenses intercepted two ballistic missiles launched by the Houthis that targeted the south of the Kingdom, Al-Malki said earlier on Monday.
He said the rockets were launched from northern Yemen toward “populated areas” of Saudi Arabia, but were intercepted overnight without any casualties or damage.
“This hostile act… proves the continued involvement of the Iranian regime in supporting the Houthi militia with qualitative capabilities,” Al-Maliki added.
Since November, the Iran-backed insurgents have intensified missile attacks into neighboring Saudi Arabia.
The conflict has left nearly 10,000 people dead, tens of thousands wounded, and millions on the brink of famine in what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.