Houthis call on U.N. to end Yemen strikes

The United Nations says the conflict in Yemen has killed 600 people, wounded 2,200 and displaced 100,000

Published: Updated:

Yemeni Houthi rebels called on the United Nations on Saturday to seek an end to Saudi Arabian air strikes against them that they described as “blatant aggression” against the country.

Warplanes from a Saudi-led coalition are targeting Iranian-allied Houthis who have seized the capital Sanaa and large areas of the country.

"We want to emphasize the grave and tragic situation that comes in the light of the continued Saudi blatant aggression on our country and our people," said the Houthi movement's foreign relations official Hussein al-Ezzi, in a letter addressed to the U.N. secretary general.

"We look forward to your active humanitarian role...to put an end to the Saudi aggression against our people without any justification or reason," the letter said, listing a number of areas and damage the strikes had caused so far.

The United Nations says the conflict in Yemen has killed 600 people, wounded 2,200 and displaced 100,000 since Houthi rebels allied with Iran seized the capital Sanaa in September.

Saudi Arabia believes the Houthis is a proxy for its regional rival Iran. Saudi backing for the resistance in Yemen's mostly Sunni Muslim south has raised fears that Yemen could descend into all-out sectarian war.

Peace talks had collapsed after Houthi militias went on the offensive in recent months, seizing the capital Sanaa and advancing on Aden, forcing President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi to flee into exile to Saudi Arabia.

A coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched an air war on Yemen on March 26 to prevent the Houthis from taking the entire territory and to restore Hadi's authority.

Iran’s deputy foreign minister said on Saturday Tehran will not let regional powers jeopardize its security interests in Yemen, Tasnim news agency reported, in the strongest acknowledgement yet of Iranian involvement in the Arabian peninsula.

The United States has supported the Saudi-led campaign against Houthis. An emergency U.N. Security Council meeting on Yemen ended Friday with the 15 members unable to agree on a Russian-drafted statement calling for pauses in fighting to allow delivery of aid.

"Let's be clear - it is the ongoing, unilateral actions of Houthis' and forces loyal to former [Yemeni] President [Ali Abdullah] Saleh that are responsible for the humanitarian crisis," an unnamed U.S. official told Reuters news agency.

"The Houthis and Saleh forces have sought to undermine the political transition process and have been aggressively expanding and occupying territory since mid-2014," he said.