The Associated Press SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Heavy airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition rocked Yemen’s capital Tuesday, striking Sanaa’s densely populated neighborhoods in apparent retaliation for the killing of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh by the Shiite rebels who control the city.
Residents reported heavy bombing, and a U.N. official said at least 25 airstrikes hit the city over the past 24 hours. The Saudi-led coalition battling the rebels had thrown its support behind Saleh just hours before his death, as the longtime strongman’s alliance with the rebels unraveled.
The U.N. Security Council called on all sides to de-escalate the upsurge in violence and re-engage with U.N. political efforts to achieve a ceasefire without preconditions. The council called the deteriorating humanitarian situation “dire,” saying Yemen “stands at the brink of catastrophic famine.”
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that despite the intensified fighting, humanitarian flights, including by the U.N. and the Red Cross, resumed to Sanaa on Tuesday morning.
Saleh’s body, which had appeared in a video by the militias with a gaping head wound, was taken to a rebel-controlled military hospital. A rebel leader, speaking at a rally in Sanaa, said Saleh’s wounded sons had been hospitalized, without providing further details.
The gruesome images from the previous day sent shockwaves among Saleh’s followers — a grisly end recalling that of his contemporary, Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, in 2011.
Saleh’s son Salah said on Facebook Tuesday that he won’t receive condolences for his father’s death until “after avenging the blood” of the former leader. Salah also urged his father’s followers to fight their former allies, the Shiite rebels known as Houthis.
Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul-Gheit meanwhile denounced Saleh’s “assassination” at the hands of “criminal militias,” and warned of a further escalation of the war and Yemen’s humanitarian crisis. A spokesman quoted Aboul-Gheit as saying the international community should label the Houthis a “terrorist” organization.