Coalition Pounds Rebel Troops in Yemen Capital, 36 Dead

Saudi-led coalition warplanes bombed a rebel troop headquarters in the Yemeni capital on Wednesday, killing 36 soldiers, witnesses and a health official said.

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The coalition launched air strikes on March 26 against Iran-backed Shiite Huthi rebels and allied forces loyal to former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh in a bid to restore U.N.-backed President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to power.

The jets on Wednesday targeted the command headquarters of special forces loyal to Saleh in southern Sanaa, as well as an arms depot in Fajj Attan, a neighborhood overlooking the capital, residents said.

An official from the rebel-held health ministry told AFP that “36 soldiers and officers were killed and 100 others were wounded” in the raids, raising an earlier toll of 15 dead.

Other raids on Wednesday severely damaged a rebel-controlled naval base in the province of Hodeida on the Red Sea coast, residents said.

Strikes also hit the northern rebel stronghold province of Hajja, near the border with Saudi Arabia, witnesses said, reporting casualties.

In the southern province of Daleh, the coalition carried out an early morning raid against a rebel-held military camp, located north of the provincial capital.

Anti-rebel militia have been trying to retake the camp, and clashes have left more than 60 fighters dead from both sides during the past 48 hours, a local government official said.

The pro-Hadi fighters said Tuesday they had regained control of the provincial capital itself, also named Daleh.

The coalition hit other rebel positions in the central city of Dhammar as well as oil-rich Marib, in the east, residents said.

The United Nations, trying to re-schedule peace talks for Yemen, says almost 2,000 people have been killed and more than half a million displaced in the conflict since March.

World Health Organization chief Margaret Chan said Wednesday that the toll includes “hundreds of women and children,” adding that “almost 7.5 million people are in urgent need of medical help”.

“Hospitals around the country are closing down their emergency operations rooms and intensive care units due to shortages in staff and fuel for generators,” said Chan.

“The health and lives of millions of people are at risk.”

She urged all parties to “respect their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians, health facilities and health staff during conflict and to permit the supply of vital humanitarian aid.”

Relief agency Oxfam warned on Tuesday that at least 16 million Yemenis, or two-thirds of the population, had no access to clean drinking water because of the conflict.

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