Hadi ‘in high spirits’ as Saudi targets Houthis

Yemeni President Hadi says he is ‘in high spirits’ after ally Saudi Arabia launched its ‘Decisive Storm’ operation against the Houthis

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Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who remained based in Aden, is in high spirits after ally Saudi Arabia launched its “Decisive Storm” operation against the Houthi rebel group opposed to his rule, an aide said.

“This operation has restored people’s determination” to fight the Houthis, Mohammed Marem, director of Hadi’s office, told Reuters.

“The president is in high spirits and thanks Gulf countries, Egypt, Jordan and Sudan and all countries in the region,” he said, adding that the operation was directed mainly against Houthi air defenses in the north of Yemen.

Local sources said Thursday that forces loyal to Hadi have shelled the al-Anad airbase near Aden, which is being held by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

Some Houthis were fleeing the area, the sources added.

On Wednesday, Hadi remained in the southern city of Aden despite a military offensive by the Houthis to dislodge him. Earlier reports by the Associated Press and AFP said the president had fled Aden after the Houthi rebels captured nearby airbase and advanced toward the city.

After responding to Hadi’s pleas for help, Saudi Arabia deployed on Thursday 100 fighter jets, 150,000 troops and other navy units. The Royal Saudi Air Force were in control of Yemen’s airspace early Thursday.

Reports also emerged that top Houthi leadership including Abdulkhaliq al-Houthi, Yousuf al-Madani, and Yousuf al-Fishi were killed, and the head of the Revolutionary Committee for the Houthis, Mohammed Ali al-Hothi, was wounded.

Saudi allies especially its Gulf counterparts, except Oman, also showcased their military power to curb Houthis from reaching Aden to dislodge Hadi.

The UAE contributed with 30 fighter jets, Bahrain 15, Kuwaiti 15, Qatar 10 and Jordan 6 in the anti-Houthi operation.

On Thursday, Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan and Sudan also expressed their readiness to participate on the ground in Yemen. Morocco also expressed its ‘complete solidarity’ with Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, the United States said it was coordinating closely with Saudi Arabia and regional allies in the anti-Houthi military operation, including providing intelligence and logistical support.

“President Obama has authorized the provision of logistical and intelligence support to GCC-led military operations,” National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement, referring to the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Watch: First video of Saudi airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen and Video: Saudi ambassador in U.S. speaks on military campaign in Yemen

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