Early on Thursday, King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia ordered the beginning of a sweeping military operation against Houthi rebels in Yemen that are backed by the Iranian regime.
Hours later the 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 Al Arabiya News Channel.
Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir, told reporters in Washington 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.
A number of top Houthi military commanders were killed on Thursday after Saudi Arabia launched a military operation in Yemen, the Al Arabiya News Channel reported.
Abdel Khalik Al-Houthi, Yousef al-Madani and Youssel al-Fishi were killed in a series of airstrikes conducted by Saudi Arabia and the UAE late Wednesday.
Saudi Arabia deployed 100 fighter jets, 150,000 soldiers and other navy units on Thursday, after it launched its operation against the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The Saudi aerial deployment enabled the Saudi Air Force to take control of Yemen’s airspace early Thursday.
Yemeni forces and loyalists to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi regained control of Aden airport from Houthi militias on Thursday, as a Saudi-led military operation continued to target the rebels.
The UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Jordan have deployed fighter jets to join the Saudi air force in the ongoing air campaign against Yemen’s Houthi rebels, Al Arabiya News Chanel reported.
The UAE has deployed 30 fighter jets, Bahrain 15, Kuwait 15, Qatar 10 and Jordan 6 warplanes.
Pakistan and Egypt are also taking part in the military campaign, contribution with air and naval forces.
Egypt, Pakistan and Sudan have also expressed readiness to contribute ground troops against the Houthis.
“This operation has restored people’s determination” to fight the Houthis, Mohammed Marem, director of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour 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.
Both the Iranian and Syrian regime condemned Saudi Arabia’s military operation “Decisive Storm” against the Houthis on Thursday.
The Iranian regime’s Foreign Ministry demanded on Thursday an immediate halt to the Saudi-led military operation describing it as “military aggression,” Fars news agency reported.
“The Saudi-led air strikes should stop immediately and it is against Yemen’s sovereignty,” the state-run news agency ISNA quoted the Iranian regime’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying.
Meanwhile, the Syrian state news agency said: “Gulf war planes led by the regime of the Saudi family launch a blatant aggression on Yemen,” read a headline carried on the website of the state news agency SANA.
The Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad is an ally of the Iranian regime, which is in turn allied with the Yemeni Houthi rebels.