King Salman holds phone talks with regional leaders

King Salman had ordered the beginning of the sweeping military operation against Yemen’s Houthi rebels

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King Salman bin Abdulaziz on Thursday evening made a series of phone calls to regional leaders amid an ongoing military campaign against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

King Salman made the phone calls to Egyptian President Abdulfattah al-Sisi, the king of Jordan, emirs of Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar, and to Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

King Salman had ordered the beginning of the sweeping military operation early on Thursday. He gave his order at 12 a.m. on Thursday, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

Hours later the Royal Saudi Air Force carried out several airstrikes on Houthi positions in Yemen, destroying most of an airbase used by the militia in Sanaa and "most of their air defenses," a Saudi source told the channel.

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Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir, told reporters in Washington the kingdom had launched a military operation involving air strikes in Yemen against Houthi fighters who have tightened their grip on the southern city of Aden where the country's president had taken refuge.

Al-Jubeir told reporters that a 10-country coalition had joined in the military campaign in a bid "to protect and defend the legitimate government" of Yemen President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

On Thursday evening, a military spokesman vowed that the coalition would press on with its campaign until goals are reached.
Speaking to reporters in the Saudi capital, spokesman Brig. Gen. Ahmed said the coalition would not allow any “supplies” to reach the rebels and that no party would be allowed to back the Houthi rebellion.

Video: Decisive Storm warplanes pound Houthi positions

Iran is the main backer of the Shiite rebels and has supplied them with weapons as they pushed to expand their control over the country.

The coalition issued a warning on Thursday to ships not to approach Yemeni ports and declared Yemeni airspace a “restricted area.”

Brig. Gen. Assiri told reporters that the first wave of the coalition air raids against Shiite rebels was “successful.”
He added that “all forms of aircraft” have been taking part in the strikes and that all of them had “returned safely to their bases.”

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