Saudi-led strikes pound Yemen capital

The raids came only hours after U.N. special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed flew in to Sanaa for talks with political parties

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Saudi-led coalition warplanes pounded Houthi positions across Sanaa overnight, only hours after the U.N. envoy to Yemen arrived in the militia-held capital, residents said Saturday.

Among the air strike targets was a house of deposed president Ali Abdullah Saleh in his home town of Sanhan, south of the capital.

The latest air raids also hit the militia-held air force headquarters in Sanaa, arms depots in Sanhan, as well as the Dailami air base, also in the capital, witnesses told Agence France-Presse.

Other raids targeted Houthi militia positions in the oil-rich eastern province of Marib and the western region of Hodaidah.


U.N. special envoy arrival

The raids came only hours after U.N. special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed flew in to Sanaa for talks with political parties, according to a militia-run website.

A conference on Yemen which was due to take place in Geneva last Thursday was postponed, in a fresh blow to U.N. efforts to broker peace in the country where the conflict has killed almost 2,000 people since March.

‘Millions of dollars’

The raids came after Saleh said, in an interview broadcast late Friday, that he had rejected a Saudi offer of “millions of dollars” to oppose the Iran-backed militias.

The interview was aired on the Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen television channel whose presenter said he spoke from Sanaa.

In Friday's interview, Saleh renewed calls for talks in Geneva between the Yemeni parties, as well as negotiations between Yemenis and Saudi Arabia -- which he accused of seeking to sow “sedition” in the war-torn country.

But “sooner or later we will hold talks with Saudi Arabia,” said the former president.

Saleh said the Geneva talks [on Yemen], which he himself first proposed, should focus on “power transfer, choosing a new authority, and the return to elections,” as well as “condemning the Saudi aggression”.

And while he indicated that the rule of President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi “is over”, he insisted that “I will not accept power for myself or my son” Ahmed, who led the elite Republican Guard troops during his rule.

As for Iran, which he said he was not directly in contact with, Saleh said the Shiite-dominated Islamic republic “does not pose a threat to Yemen at all”.

Saleh was forced to resign in early 2012 after waging a bloody crackdown on a year of protests calling for an end to his three decades of iron-fisted rule.

His forces have been backing the Houthi militias who seized Sanaa in September before expanding across other parts of the country.

The former strongman no longer resides in his Sanhan house.

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