Diplomats and U.N. staff flee Yemen as Houthis target Aden

People search for survivors under the rubble of houses destroyed by Saudi airstrikes near Sana’a Airport, Yemen. Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes on Thursday targeting military installations in Yemen held by Shia rebels. AP Photo/Hani Mohammed

(Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s navy evacuated dozens of diplomats from Yemen and the United Nations pulled out international staff on Saturday after a third night of Saudi-led air strikes trying to stem advances by Iranian-allied Houthi fighters.

Residents reported heavy clashes between the Houthis and mainly Sunni tribal fighters in the south of the country, while the Saudi-led air campaign sought to stall a fresh offensive by the Shi’ite Muslim group on Aden from the east.

Riyadh’s intervention, a surprise move from a conservative monarchy better known for flexing its muscle in oil markets than through military might, is planned to last a month but could extend for five or six, a Gulf diplomatic source said.

He said satellite imagery had shown that the Houthis had repositioned long-range Scud missiles in the north, close to the Saudi border and aimed at Saudi territory. A Yemeni official said Iran was providing parts for the missiles.

Dozens of diplomats were shipped out of Aden to the Red Sea port of Jeddah, Saudi television said, escaping the city where President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi had taken refuge until Thursday, when he left for Egypt to shore up Arab support for his crumbling authority…

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