CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Washington deepened its involvement in the Saudi-led air war in Yemen

 

 

 

Houthi,Yemen,Sanaa,US Drone Strikes,2015

Demonstrations against Houthis in Yemen in January 2015 (Mohammed Hamoud/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Map locating the latest clashes in Yemen, with updated toll 

Map locating the latest clashes in Yemen, with updated toll ©I. Véricourt / V. Lefai (AFP/File)

Shiite Huthi rebels pictured in the Crater district of the the southern Yemeni port city of Aden on April 5, 2015

Shiite Huthi rebels pictured in the Crater district of the the southern Yemeni port city of Aden on April 5, 2015 ©Saleh Al-Obeidi (AFP/File)

 

 

   

 

 

Washington deepened its involvement in the Saudi-led air war in Yemen

 

Wednesday as aid agencies scrambled to deliver help to civilians caught up in the campaign now heading into its third week.

The Red Cross has warned of a "catastrophic" situation in main southern city Aden where militia loyal to fugitive President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi have been holding out against Huthi Shiite rebels and their allies within the security forces.

Scores of people have been killed or wounded in the street fighting in the heart of the port city and aid agency Doctors Without Borders said it feared many more had been unable to reach hospitals.

Yemeni fighters opposing the Huthi rebels hold a bullet belt in the southern Yemeni city of Aden on April 8, 2015 as clashes continue to rage in the embattle...

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Yemeni fighters opposing the Huthi rebels hold a bullet belt in the southern Yemeni city of Aden on April 8, 2015 as clashes continue to rage in the embattled city ©Saleh Al-Obeidi (AFP)

The main Shiite power Iran, which has strongly opposed the Saudi-led intervention, stepped up its efforts for a negotiated settlement with a visit to Saudi ally Pakistan by Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif.

Islamabad has so far deflected appeals by Riyadh to join the coalition of nine -- mainly Sunni -- Arab countries intervening in Yemen, for fear of deepening sectarian divisions at home and across the Muslim world.

US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was stepping up weapons deliveries and intelligence sharing in support of the Saudi-led coalition.

"Saudi Arabia is sending a strong message to the Huthis and their allies that they cannot overrun Yemen by force," Blinken told reporters in the Saudi capital late Tuesday.

"In support of that effort we have expedited weapons deliveries," he said after talks with Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman and other Saudi officials.

A US defence official told AFP that Washington was sending primarily precision-guided munitions.

The coalition launched its air war on March 26 as the rebels and their allies closed on Hadi's last refuge Aden, prompting him to flee to neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh accuses Tehran of backing the rebels and has vowed to bomb them into surrender to prevent them establishing a pro-Iran state on its doorstep.

But the rebels have powerful allies within the security forces who have remained loyal to longtime strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh, forced from power in 2012 after a bloody, year-long, Arab Spring-inspired uprising.

Eight rebels and three loyalist militiamen were killed in clashes in Aden overnight, a military source said.

Saudi-led warplanes also bombed rebel positions at the city's international airport and the huge Al-Anad air base to its north, another military source said.

- Qaeda fears -

Al-Anad was a key monitoring post in Washington's longstanding drone war against Al-Qaeda until it withdrew its troops as fighting intensified last month.

The deepening conflict has raised fears that the jihadists will exploit the power vacuum.

Last week, Al-Qaeda seized much of Hadramawt provincial capital Mukalla. On Tuesday, they attacked one of the last loyalist strongholds in the city.

US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter acknowledged on Wednesday that the fighting in Yemen was complicating Washington's counter-terrorism efforts but vowed they would go on regardless.

"Obviously it's always easier to conduct CT ops when there is a stable government willing to cooperate," he said.

"That circumstance now obviously doesn't exist in Yemen but that doesn't mean that we don't continue to take steps to protect ourselves. We have to do it in a different way, but we do and we are."

As Iran's top diplomat prepared to visit, Pakistan said it would take its time deciding whether to accept the Saudi request to join the coalition.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan was "not in a hurry" to decide and that diplomatic efforts were under way involving Turkey and Iran.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has expressed support for the coalition without providing military forces, held talks in Tehran on Tuesday.

"We both think war and bloodshed must stop in this area immediately and a complete ceasefire must be established and the strikes must stop," his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani said after their meeting.

Pakistan faces a tricky dilemma, as it has long enjoyed close ties with Riyadh and has benefited hugely from the oil-rich kingdom's largesse.

But it has called for a negotiated solution, saying it does not want to take part in any conflict that would worsen sectarian divisions in the Muslim world.

Yemeni fighters opposing the Huthi rebels look at smoke rising from buildings in the southern city of Aden on April 8, 2015

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Yemeni fighters opposing the Huthi rebels look at smoke rising from buildings in the southern city of Aden on April 8, 2015 ©Saleh Al-Obeidi (AFP)

Supporters of the southern separatist movement and the Saudi led-coalition conducting air raids on rebel positions  check a vehicle at a checkpoint in Aden o...

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Supporters of the southern separatist movement and the Saudi led-coalition conducting air raids on rebel positions check a vehicle at a checkpoint in Aden on April 7, 2015 ©Saleh Al-Obeidi (AFP)

Yemenis gather around a burnt car after it was targeted by a drone strike killing three suspected al-Qaeda militants on January 26, 2015 in a desert area eas...

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Yemenis gather around a burnt car after it was targeted by a drone strike killing three suspected al-Qaeda militants on January 26, 2015 in a desert area east of Sanaa

Smoke and flames rise allegedly from Shiite Huthi rebels camps located on Aser mountain following an airstrike by the Saudi-led alliance on April 6, 2015 in ...

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Smoke and flames rise allegedly from Shiite Huthi rebels camps located on Aser mountain following an airstrike by the Saudi-led alliance on April 6, 2015 in the Yemeni capital Sanaa ©Mohammed Huwais (AFP/File)

Iran has sent two warships to the waters off Yemen while the US has accelerated moves to supply weapons to the Saudi coalition as foreign powers get drawn deeper into the conflict.

The Alborz destroyer and Bushehr support vessel sailed from Bandar Abbas to the Gulf of Aden today with military bosses claiming the move is designed to protect Iranian shipping from piracy.

It comes as Saudi Arabia continues to lead a bombing campaign to oust the Iran-allied Houthi movement which has taken most of Yemen and forced President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee to Riyadh.

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Smoke billows from a Saudi-led airstrike on Sanaa, Yemen earlier today amid reports Iran has sent a navy destroyer and another vessel to the Gulf of Aden

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Smoke billows from a Saudi-led airstrike on Sanaa, Yemen earlier today amid reports Iran has sent a navy destroyer and another vessel to the Gulf of Aden

Conflict: Yemeni supporters of the southern separatist movement fire towards Houthi rebels during clashes in the northern Dar Saad neighbourhood of the southern Yemeni city of Aden today

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Conflict: Yemeni supporters of the southern separatist movement fire towards Houthi rebels during clashes in the northern Dar Saad neighbourhood of the southern Yemeni city of Aden today

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A Houthi fighter aims a weapon upwards as smoke rises from a building after a Saudi-led airstrike on a street in Sanaa, Yemen

Saudi Arabia and several Arab allies have imposed an air and naval blockade on Yemen in a two-week campaign that has been condemned by Iran, which has called for dialogue.

The Iranian ships will patrol the Gulf of Aden, south ofYemen, and the Red Sea, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said in comments cited by Press TV

Meanwhile, Washington deepened its involvement in the conflict as aid agencies scrambled to deliver help to civilians caught up in the campaign now heading into its third week.

The Red Cross has warned of a 'catastrophic' situation in main southern city Aden where militia loyal to fugitive President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi have been holding out against Houthi Shiite rebels and their allies within the security forces.

Yemenis search for survivors under the rubble after air strike

Gunfight: A man fires towards Houthi rebels. Eleven people were killed in Yemen's main southern city Aden overnight in clashes between rebels and forces loyal to fugitive President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi

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Gunfight: A man fires towards Houthi rebels. Eleven people were killed in Yemen's main southern city Aden overnight in clashes between rebels and forces loyal to fugitive President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi

Scores of people have been killed or wounded in the street fighting in the heart of the port city of Aden

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Scores of people have been killed or wounded in the street fighting in the heart of the port city of Aden

Scores of people have been killed or wounded in the street fighting in the heart of the port city and aid agency Doctors Without Borders said it feared many more had been unable to reach hospitals.

The main Shiite power Iran, which has strongly opposed the Saudi-led intervention, stepped up its efforts for a negotiated settlement with a visit to Saudi ally Pakistan by Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif.

Islamabad has so far deflected appeals by Riyadh to join the coalition of nine - mainly Sunni - Arab countries intervening in Yemen, for fear of deepening sectarian divisions at home and across the Muslim world.

US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was stepping up weapons deliveries and intelligence sharing in support of the Saudi-led coalition.

'Saudi Arabia is sending a strong message to the Houthis and their allies that they cannot overrun Yemen by force,' Blinken told reporters in the Saudi capital.

Firefighters jet water on to a burning building after eyewitness reports that it had been hit in an air strike

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Firefighters jet water on to a burning building after eyewitness reports that it had been hit in an air strike

A girl runs for shelter during an air strike in Sanaa. Saudi Arabia is leading a bombing campaign to oust the Iran-allied Houthi movement which has taken most of Yemen

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A girl runs for shelter during an air strike in Sanaa. Saudi Arabia is leading a bombing campaign to oust the Iran-allied Houthi movement which has taken most of Yemen

'In support of that effort we have expedited weapons deliveries,' he said after talks with Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman and other Saudi officials.

A US defence official told AFP that Washington was sending primarily precision-guided munitions.

The coalition launched its air war on March 26 as the rebels and their allies closed on Hadi's last refuge Aden, prompting him to flee to neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh accuses Tehran of backing the rebels and has vowed to bomb them into surrender to prevent them establishing a pro-Iran state on its doorstep.

But the rebels have powerful allies within the security forces who have remained loyal to longtime strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh, forced from power in 2012 after a year-long, Arab Spring-inspired uprising.

Eight rebels and three loyalist militiamen were killed in clashes in Aden overnight, a military source said.

Saudi-led warplanes also bombed rebel positions at the city's international airport and the huge Al-Anad air base to its north, another military source said. 

Bomb site: A man surveys a damaged building hit in an airstrike organised by a Saudi-led alliance

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Bomb site: A man surveys a damaged building hit in an airstrike organised by a Saudi-led alliance

Wreckage: A man inspects the twisted remains of a building hit in an airstrike Sanaa, Yemen

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Wreckage: A man inspects the twisted remains of a building hit in an airstrike Sanaa, Yemen

Washington is stepping up weapons deliveries and intelligence sharing in support of the Saudi-led coalition 

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Washington is stepping up weapons deliveries and intelligence sharing in support of the Saudi-led coalition 

Al-Anad was a key monitoring post in Washington's longstanding drone war against Al-Qaeda until it withdrew its troops as fighting intensified last month.

Last week, Al-Qaeda seized much of Hadramawt provincial capital Mukalla. On Tuesday, they attacked one of the last loyalist strongholds in the city.

US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter acknowledged on Wednesday that the fighting in Yemen was complicating Washington's counter-terrorism efforts but vowed they would go on regardless.

'Obviously it's always easier to conduct CT ops when there is a stable government willing to cooperate,' he said.

'That circumstance now obviously doesn't exist in Yemen but that doesn't mean that we don't continue to take steps to protect ourselves. We have to do it in a different way, but we do and we are.'

 

A heavily armed Yemeni fighter walks near the entrance to Aden. The Red Cross has warned of a 'catastrophic' situation in the city

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A heavily armed Yemeni fighter walks near the entrance to Aden. The Red Cross has warned of a 'catastrophic' situation in the city

As Iran's top diplomat prepared to visit, Pakistan said it would take its time deciding whether to accept the Saudi request to join the coalition.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan was 'not in a hurry' to decide and that diplomatic efforts were under way involving Turkey and Iran.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has expressed support for the coalition without providing military forces, held talks in Tehran on Tuesday.

'We both think war and bloodshed must stop in this area immediately and a complete ceasefire must be established and the strikes must stop,' his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani said after their meeting.

Pakistan has called for a negotiated solution, saying it does not want to take part in any conflict that would worsen sectarian divisions in the Muslim world.

 

 

 

 

Middle East crisis deepens as the US warns it will not 'stand by' while Iran supports rebels in Yemen

  • Secretary of State John Kerry hits out at Iran's support of Houthi fighters
  • But adds that Washington is not looking for a confrontation with Tehran
  • Saudi-led coalition starts third week of air-strikes against rebels in Yemen
  • Pentagon has started daily aerial refuelling for warplanes in the coalition

The Middle East crisis deepened today as the US warned it will not 'stand by' while Iran supports rebels in Yemen.

Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington would not accept foreign interference in the country in a direct criticism of Tehran's backing of Shiite Houthi fighters.

It comes as a Saudi-led coalition continues to pound anti-government forces in Yemen at the start of a third week of bombing.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has warned that the US will not 'stand by' while Iran supports rebels in Yemen

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US Secretary of State John Kerry has warned that the US will not 'stand by' while Iran supports rebels in Yemen

A member of the Saudi border guard is stationed at a look-out point on the Saudi-Yemeni border today. A Saudi-led coalition is continuing to pound anti-government forces in Yemen

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A member of the Saudi border guard is stationed at a look-out point on the Saudi-Yemeni border today. A Saudi-led coalition is continuing to pound anti-government forces in Yemen

Mr Kerry told PBS television: 'There have been - there are, obviously - flights coming from Iran. Every single week there are flights from Iran and we've traced it and know this.

'Iran needs to recognise that the United States is not going to stand by while the region is destabilised or while people engage in overt warfare across lines, international boundaries in other countries.'

The United States has backed the Saudi-led campaign, which launched air strikes last month as the rebels advanced on Yemen's main southern city of Aden after seizing the capital Sanaa.

President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi fled Aden for Saudi Arabia during the Houthi advance and the city has since seen heavy clashes between pro and anti-government forces.

Riyadh has accused Tehran, the major Shiite power, of backing the rebels in a bid to establish a pro-Iran state on its doorstep.

But Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif insisted his government wanted a swift end to the fighting, which has cost more than 640 lives since March 19, according to the World Health Organization.

Military force: Saudi army tanks are seen deployed near the Saudi-Yemeni border, in southwestern Saudi Arabia

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Military force: Saudi army tanks are seen deployed near the Saudi-Yemeni border, in southwestern Saudi Arabia

Patrol: Saudi guards drive tanks and armed vehicles along the border with Yemen

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Patrol: Saudi guards drive tanks and armed vehicles along the border with Yemen

Mr Kerry, fresh from world powers striking a framework agreement with Iran on its nuclear programme, said Washington was not looking for confrontation with Tehran.

'But we're not going to step away from our alliances and our friendships and the need to stand with those who feel threatened as a consequence of the choices that Iran might be making.'

In another sign of growing US support for the Saudi effort, the Pentagon said it had started daily aerial refuelling for warplanes in the coalition.

The first refuelling flight took place on Tuesday night with a US Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker providing fuel for a F-15 fighter jet operated by Saudi Arabia and an F-16 flown by the United Arab Emirates, spokesman Colonel Steven Warren said.

NUCLEAR DEAL NOT GUARANTEED, WARNS IRAN'S SUPREME LEADER

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned that last week's framework accord with world powers was no guarantee of a final nuclear deal.

And President Hassan Rouhani said separately that the Islamic republic would not sign any final agreement unless 'all economic sanctions are totally lifted on the same day'.

'What has been done so far does not guarantee an agreement, nor its contents, nor even that the negotiations will continue to the end,' said Khamenei, who has the final word on all matters of state.

After a week of gruelling last-ditch negotiations, Tehran and the six powers agreed on April 2 on the framework of a deal to be finalised by the end of June reining in Iran's nuclear programme in return for the lifting of international sanctions.

'Everything is in the detail, it may be that the other side, which is unfair, wants to limit our country in the details,' Khamenei said, in his first comments on the deal.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned that last week's framework accord with world powers was no guarantee of a final nuclear deal

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Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned that last week's framework accord with world powers was no guarantee of a final nuclear deal

Playing down expectations of a deal after the interim accord - which sparked celebrations in the streets of Iranian cities - Khamenei said he had not taken any position until now as 'there is nothing to take a stance on'.

'Officials say that nothing has been done yet and there is nothing binding. I am neither for nor against.'

Under the outline text agreed in the Swiss city of Lausanne between Tehran and the so-called P5+1 powers - the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia plus Germany - Iran must significantly reduce its number of centrifuges in exchange for a suspension of sanctions.

The outline was a major breakthrough in a 12-year international crisis over Iran's nuclear programme.

'I have always supported and still support the Iranian negotiating team,' Khamenei said.

'I welcome any agreement that protects the interests and greatness of the nation, but having no agreement is more honourable than an agreement in which the interests and greatness of the nation is damaged.'

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the Islamic republic would not sign any final agreement unless 'all economic sanctions are totally lifted on the same day'

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the Islamic republic would not sign any final agreement unless 'all economic sanctions are totally lifted on the same day'

He said that retaining a civil nuclear industry in any agreement was vital for Iran's future development.

'The nuclear industry is a necessity, for energy production, for desalination, and in the fields of medicine, agriculture and other sectors,' he said.

In a potential obstacle to any final deal, Rouhani said his country wanted sanctions lifted on the day of the implementation of any agreement.

'We will not sign any agreements unless on the first day of the implementation of the deal all economic sanctions are totally lifted on the same day,' he said.

The pace at which the sanctions will be lifted is one of the outstanding issues that still has to be agreed in the final accord.

Western governments, which have imposed their own sanctions over and above those adopted by the United Nations, have been pushing for it to happen only gradually.

'In return for Iran's future cooperation, we and our international partners will provide relief in phases from the sanctions that have impacted Iran's economy,' US Secretary of State John Kerry said last week.

Rouhani, who was speaking on Iran's National Nuclear Technology Day, reiterated that his government remained determined to develop its civil nuclear programme.

'We will have a tanker sortie every day,' Warren said, adding that all flights will be outside of Yemeni air space.

The air strikes killed at least 14 rebel fighters in Aden overnight Thursday at positions near the northern edge of the city, a source in pro-government forces told AFP.

Air strikes also hit a military camp in the southern Shabwa province that was seized by the Houthis' main allies - security forces who have remained loyal to former strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh, a local official said.

The official had no information on casualties among the forces loyal to Saleh, who has been accused of joining with the Houthis after being ousted from power in 2012 after an Arab Spring-inspired uprising.

Yemen has been wracked by conflict since Saleh's ouster, with Hadi unable to assert government authority in a deeply tribal country riven by divisions.

Supporters of the Shiite Houthi militia brandish their weapons in the Yemeni capital Sanaa. Washington has said it will not accept foreign interference in the country

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Supporters of the Shiite Houthi militia brandish their weapons in the Yemeni capital Sanaa. Washington has said it will not accept foreign interference in the country

Authorities in Yemen had for years allowed Washington to carry out a drone war against AQAP but US forces pulled out of the country amid the latest unrest.

Al-Qaeda has taken advantage of the chaos to seize control of some areas and carried out a series of deadly attacks on both government forces and the Houthis.

As the fighting and air campaign drag on, concern has been growing for what aid workers say is a mounting humanitarian crisis.

Some aid trickled in to Aden by ship on Wednesday but efforts by the International Committee of the Red Cross to organise flights of cargo planes into Sanaa have so far failed.

In Aden, witnesses have said the situation is dire, with bodies lying in the streets and mosques calling through loudspeakers for help.

Smoke and flames rise from Shiite Houthi rebel camps following an airstrike by the Saudi-led allianceearlier this week

Smoke and flames rise from Shiite Houthi rebel camps following an airstrike by the Saudi-led allianceearlier this week

A Yemeni child receives treatment at the burns unit of a hospital in Sanaa, following a reported airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition earlier this month

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A Yemeni child receives treatment at the burns unit of a hospital in Sanaa, following a reported airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition earlier this month

Diplomatic efforts have stepped up to resolve the conflict, with the Iranian and Pakistani foreign ministers pledging to work to find a negotiated solution.

Zarif laid out a four-stage plan for talks, calling for an immediate ceasefire followed by humanitarian assistance, dialogue among Yemenis and the formation of an 'all-inclusive government'.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was also quoted on Thursday as calling for a regional effort to end the fighting.

'The groups in Yemen should meet and work on possible solution. Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran should be involved in efforts for a diplomatic solution,' Erdogan was quoted as saying by Turkish media.

  • Aid agency received approval from Saudi-led coalition to enter Yemen
  • It has been negotiating for weeks to deliver emergency food and supplies
  • 11 days of coalition airstrikes on Iran-backed Shi'ite Houthi rebel positions have left more than 500 people dead and many more displaced
  • News comes as Pakistan begins talks to join the coalition of Sunni nations

The Red Cross hopes to bring vital medical supplies and aid workers into Yemen after receiving approval from the Saudi-led military coalition, an ICRC spokeswoman said.

The aid agency has been negotiating for a week to deliver life-saving supplies and equipment to Yemen, where the coalition has conducted 11 days of air strikes against Iran-backed Shi'ite Houthis.

The coalition now controls the country's ports and air space. The UN last week said that more than 500 people had been killed in two weeks of fighting in Yemen.

On Saturday it called for a 24-hour humanitarian pause in the conflict to allow aid to reach people cut off by air strikes and to save the lives of 'streams of wounded'.

But hopes of getting aid into the country by tomorrow are fading, as they seek clearance from Arab states waging the air strikes and hunt for planes prepared to fly to Yemen.

Air strikes: It is thought about 500 people have been killed in two weeks of fighting in Yemen - but so far, the International Red Cross has not been able to gain entry to the Middle Eastern country

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Air strikes: It is thought about 500 people have been killed in two weeks of fighting in Yemen - but so far, the International Red Cross has not been able to gain entry to the Middle Eastern country

Carnage: The aid agency has been negotiating for a week to deliver life-saving supplies and equipment to Yemen, where the coalition has conducted 11 days of air strikes against Iran-backed Shi'ite Houthis

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Carnage: The aid agency has been negotiating for a week to deliver life-saving supplies and equipment to Yemen, where the coalition has conducted 11 days of air strikes against Iran-backed Shi'ite Houthis

People stand on the rubble of houses destroyed by an air strike in Okash village near Sanaa over the weekend

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People stand on the rubble of houses destroyed by an air strike in Okash village near Sanaa over the weekend

Supporters of the Houthi rebels raise rifles as they shout slogans against the Saudi-led air strikes in Sanaa

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Supporters of the Houthi rebels raise rifles as they shout slogans against the Saudi-led air strikes in Sanaa

Discussions: Pakistan is currently in talks about whether to enter the conflict - but the country's political leaders, like Imran Khan, who leads Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) party,  are urging diplomacy

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Discussions: Pakistan is currently in talks about whether to enter the conflict - but the country's political leaders, like Imran Khan, who leads Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) party,  are urging diplomacy

'Dialogue for peace': Members of Pakistan's civil society chant slogans against the Saudi-led coalition targeting Shiite rebels in Yemen, during a demonstration, in Lahore

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'Dialogue for peace': Members of Pakistan's civil society chant slogans against the Saudi-led coalition targeting Shiite rebels in Yemen, during a demonstration, in Lahore

'We are still working on getting the plane to [the Yemeni capital] Sanaa. It's a bit difficult with the logistics because there are not that many companies or cargo planes willing to fly into a conflict zone,' said Marie Claire Feghali, a Red Cross spokesperson.

The ICRC is aiming to get 48 tonnes of medical supplies into Yemen by plane. It is also trying to get staff by boat from Djibouti to Aden, but fighting has complicated efforts.

Earlier today in Riyadh, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition said arrangements had been made for at least one Red Cross aid delivery yesterday morning, but the ICRC - which deploys 300 aid workers to the Arab peninsula's poorest country - had pulled out of the arrangement.

'There was a trip fixed for them at nine this morning ... They informed us, after the time was set, of a request to delay the flight,' Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri told reporters yesterday, adding that this was because the company from which they had chartered the plane could not fly to Yemen.

The Saudi-led coalition says it has set up a special coordination body for aid deliveries and asked NGOs and governments to work with it to ensure humanitarian aid can be brought into Yemen and foreign nationals can be evacuated safely.   

The news comes on the same day as war-weary Pakistan began talks to enter the conflict after its staunch Saudi allies issued an urgent request the country join the expanding coalition of Sunni Muslim nations fighting Shiite rebels in the country.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced the special session of parliament last week, saying any decision on intervention could only come after proper debate.

However, Pakistan's political leaders - including former cricketer Imran Khan, the head of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) party - are calling for diplomacy and a negotiated settlement, saying it does not want to get involved in any conflict that would inflame sectarian tensions. 

Intervention: Saudi soldiers take their position at Saudi Arabia's border with Yemen earlier today

Intervention: Saudi soldiers take their position at Saudi Arabia's border with Yemen earlier today

Running away: Yemenis flee from the international airport neighborhood in the capital Sanaa

Running away: Yemenis flee from the international airport neighborhood in the capital Sanaa

Under attack: Smoke and flames rise allegedly from Shiite Huthi rebels camps

Under attack: Smoke and flames rise allegedly from Shiite Huthi rebels camps

Warzone: Yemenis stand beside trucks destroyed by an airstrike carried out by the Saudi-led coalition targeting Houthi rebel positions in Hais district in the western port city of Hodeidah yesterday

Warzone: Yemenis stand beside trucks destroyed by an airstrike carried out by the Saudi-led coalition targeting Houthi rebel positions in Hais district in the western port city of Hodeidah yesterday

Blast: A Yemeni soldier inspects a truck destroyed by the Saudi-led coalition in Hodeidah yesterday

Blast: A Yemeni soldier inspects a truck destroyed by the Saudi-led coalition in Hodeidah yesterday

Grief: Yemeni women visit the graves of their relatives of Houthi supporters  killed during recent fighting. The UN last week said that more than 500 people had been killed in two weeks of fighting in Yemen

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Grief: Yemeni women visit the graves of their relatives of Houthi supporters killed during recent fighting. The UN last week said that more than 500 people had been killed in two weeks of fighting in Yemen

Hundreds evacuated from Yemen as Al Qaeda seizes base

This morning Pakistan's parliament begins debating a Saudi plea for military help in Yemen - a request that pits Prime Minister Sharif's Saudi allies against a war-weary Pakistani public.

Since Saudi Arabia, the Gulf's main Sunni Muslim power, asked Sunni-majority Pakistan to join a Saudi-led military coalition that began conducting air strikes last month against largely Shi'ite Houthi forces in Yemen, Sharif has hedged his bets.

He has said repeatedly he will defend any threat to Saudi Arabia's 'territorial integrity' without defining what action such a threat might provoke.

'They're looking to satisfy Saudi expectations at a minimal level,' said Arif Rafiq, a Washington-based adjunct scholar with the Middle East Institute. 'They're unlikely to be part of any meaningful action inside Yemen. Maybe they will reinforce the (Saudi) border.'

'HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO LIVE WITHOUT WATER AND ELECTRICITY?'

Twelve days of fighting has not only killed hundreds of people, but cut off water and electricity and led UNICEF to warn Yemen is heading towards a humanitarian disaster.

For the people trapped between the warring sides, the arrival of the ICRC could not come soon enough.

Street fighting and heavy shelling have torn through the streets of In Aden - the last bastion of support for the Saudi-backed Hadi - for days. Sixty people were killed in heavy fighting on Sunday alone, according to reports.

Residents claim a foreign warship had shelled Houthi positions on the outskirts, but a spokesman for the coalition in Riyadh said its vessels were helping civilian evacuations, not shelling the Houthis.

Nevertheless, food, water and electricity shortages have mounted across the city, where combat has shut ports and cut land routes from the city.

'How are we supposed to live without water and electricity?' pleaded Fatima, a housewife walking through the city streets with her young children.

She clutched a yellow plastic jerry can, like dozens of other residents on the streets and in queues seeking water from public wells or mosque faucets after supplies at home dried up.

In Dahlea, just north of the city, air strikes hit a local government compound and a military base on its outskirts, which were both taken over by Houthis. Residents said buildings were on fire and reported loud explosions.

But militia fighters said coalition planes also dropped supplies - the first time they had done so outside Aden - including mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, rifles, ammunition, telecommunications equipment and night goggles.

Residents near al-Anad air base, once home to U.S. military personnel fighting a covert drone war with al Qaeda in Yemen, said dozens of Houthi and allied fighters were withdrawing north after the site was bombed by coalition jets.

Meanwhile, at least eight people were killed in an air strike before dawn in the suburbs of the northern city of Saadah, home of the Houthi movement which spread from its mountain stronghold to take over the capital Sanaa six months ago.

A Houthi spokesman said the dead included women and children.

Local officials said strikes also hit air defence and coastal military units near the Red Sea port of Hodaida, and targets on the outskirts of Aden. They also hit a bridge on the road south to Aden, apparently trying to block the Houthis from sending reinforcements to their fighters in the city.

Crater: Yemeni men inspect a hole allegedly made during an airstrike carried out by Saudi jets yesterday

Crater: Yemeni men inspect a hole allegedly made during an airstrike carried out by Saudi jets yesterday

Armed: A Yemeni gunman stands beside trucks destroyed by a Saudi-led coalition airstrike targeting Houthi rebels  in the Hais district of the western port city of Hodeidah yesterday

Armed: A Yemeni gunman stands beside trucks destroyed by a Saudi-led coalition airstrike targeting Houthi rebels in the Hais district of the western port city of Hodeidah yesterday

Destroyed: Trucks destroyed by Saudi warplanes are seen near the city of Hodeidah in Yemen yesterday

Destroyed: Trucks destroyed by Saudi warplanes are seen near the city of Hodeidah in Yemen yesterday

 

 

 

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