NNA – Saudi-led coalition warplanes pounded rebel positions across Yemen overnight, witnesses said, hours before the country’s warring factions were set to begin peace talks in Geneva on Monday.
The coalition carried out pre-dawn strikes on rebel-held missile depots on the Fajj Attan hill overlooking the capital Sanaa, residents said.
Other strikes targeted rebels in Amran province farther north as well as Hajja near the Saudi border and nearby Huthi rebel stronghold Saada.
Coalition warplanes late on Sunday also hit rebel positions in the oil-rich Marib province, in Yemen’s east.
Residents in third city Taez accused the Iran-backed Huthi rebels and their allies of shelling residential areas using tanks and artillery late on Sunday.
The sources spoke of civilian casualties but AFP could not immediately obtain a toll.
The war in Yemen has so far claimed more than 2,500 lives since air strikes began in March, according to the United Nations.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who will open the Geneva talks on Monday, has said the repeatedly delayed consultations aim for a ceasefire, an agreement on a withdrawal plan for the rebels and the stepping up humanitarian aid deliveries.
Yemen has been wracked by the conflict between the rebels and exiled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi’s internationally recognised government.
The Huthis, supported by military units loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, have seized control of large parts of the country including the capital Sanaa, forcing Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia.
Fearing an Iran-friendly regime on its southern border, Riyadh has been leading a campaign of air strikes against the rebels since March 26 but has so far failed to force them from territory they have seized.
The rebels have even advanced, taking control of Al-Hazm, the main city of Jawf province, on Sunday with little resistance, residents and pro-government fighters said.
The city lies only 150 kilometers (90 miles) south of the border with Saudi Arabia.–AFP