20°C / 22°C
  • Mon
  • 21°C
  • 9°C
  • Tue
  • 21°C
  • 10°C
  • Wed
  • 20°C
  • 10°C
  • Thu
  • 19°C
  • 8°C
  • Fri
  • 18°C
  • 6°C
  • Mon
  • 19°C
  • 14°C
  • Tue
  • 15°C
  • 10°C
  • Wed
  • 14°C
  • 9°C
  • Thu
  • 15°C
  • 11°C
  • Fri
  • 18°C
  • 9°C
  • Mon
  • 23°C
  • 10°C
  • Tue
  • 24°C
  • 11°C
  • Wed
  • 23°C
  • 10°C
  • Thu
  • 22°C
  • 8°C
  • Fri
  • 20°C
  • 8°C
  • Mon
  • 22°C
  • 7°C
  • Tue
  • 22°C
  • 6°C
  • Wed
  • 23°C
  • 7°C
  • Thu
  • 22°C
  • 5°C
  • Fri
  • 20°C
  • 3°C
  • Mon
  • 25°C
  • 16°C
  • Tue
  • 23°C
  • 16°C
  • Wed
  • 19°C
  • 15°C
  • Thu
  • 21°C
  • 13°C
  • Fri
  • 20°C
  • 12°C
  • Mon
  • 21°C
  • 14°C
  • Tue
  • 16°C
  • 9°C
  • Wed
  • 14°C
  • 8°C
  • Thu
  • 15°C
  • 10°C
  • Fri
  • 18°C
  • 10°C
  • Mon
  • 17°C
  • 10°C
  • Tue
  • 13°C
  • 5°C
  • Wed
  • 15°C
  • 4°C
  • Thu
  • 15°C
  • 5°C
  • Fri
  • 19°C
  • 6°C
  • Mon
  • 18°C
  • 12°C
  • Tue
  • 14°C
  • 8°C
  • Wed
  • 14°C
  • 6°C
  • Thu
  • 14°C
  • 8°C
  • Fri
  • 18°C
  • 7°C
  • Mon
  • 24°C
  • 9°C
  • Tue
  • 25°C
  • 9°C
  • Wed
  • 25°C
  • 9°C
  • Thu
  • 24°C
  • 7°C
  • Fri
  • 22°C
  • 6°C
  • Mon
  • 23°C
  • 3°C
  • Tue
  • 22°C
  • 5°C
  • Wed
  • 23°C
  • 4°C
  • Thu
  • 15°C
  • 1°C
  • Fri
  • 18°C
  • 0°C
  • Mon
  • 27°C
  • 8°C
  • Tue
  • 32°C
  • 8°C
  • Wed
  • 19°C
  • 9°C
  • Thu
  • 29°C
  • 8°C
  • Fri
  • 20°C
  • 7°C
  • Mon
  • 19°C
  • 13°C
  • Tue
  • 15°C
  • 7°C
  • Wed
  • 12°C
  • 6°C
  • Thu
  • 14°C
  • 9°C
  • Fri
  • 17°C
  • 8°C

Heavy clashes on Saudi-Yemeni border

Saudi & Houthi fighters clash in the heaviest exchange of cross-border fire since the air offensive started.

Members of Shiite factions hold banners and flags during a demonstration to protest against the Saudi-led Arab coalition which is carrying out air strikes on Huthi militia targets across Yemen on 31 March, 2015 in the mainly Shiite southern Iraqi city of Basra. Picture: AFP.

ADEN - Saudi troops clashed with Yemeni Houthi fighters on Tuesday in the heaviest exchange of cross-border fire since the start of a Saudi-led air offensive last week, while Yemen's foreign minister called for a rapid Arab intervention on the ground.

Saudi Arabia has been leading a coalition of Arab states since last Thursday in an air campaign against the Shi'ite Houthis, who emerged as the most powerful force in the Arabian Peninsula's poorest country when they seized Yemen's capital last year.

The Saudis say their aim is to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who left the country last week. The Houthis are allied with Saudi Arabia's regional foe Iran, and backed by army units loyal to longtime ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was pushed out three years ago after "Arab Spring" demonstrations.

The conflict has brought civil war to a country already on the verge of chaos and forced Washington to evacuate its personnel from one of the main battlefields in the covert US drone war against al-Qaeda.

Residents and tribal sources in north Yemen reported artillery and rocket exchanges along several stretches of the Saudi border. Explosions and heavy gunfire were heard and Saudi helicopters flew overhead, they said.

In the southern port of Aden, Houthi fighters and allied army units pressed an offensive against forces loyal to Hadi, trying to capture the last remaining major stronghold of the absent president's forces.

At least 36 people were killed when Houthi forces shelled Hadi loyalists in Aden. Jets from the Saudi-led coalition bombed Houthi positions near the airport.

Further west, Houthi fighters entered a coastal military base overlooking the Red Sea's strategic Bab el-Mandeb strait, local officials said, when soldiers of the 17th Armoured Division opened the gates to the facility.

ENERGY GATEWAY

The Bab el-Mandeb shipping lane, which connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea, is a vital energy gateway for more than 3 million barrels of oil passing daily to Europe, Asia and the United States.

Hadi's rump government, now based in Saudi Arabia, called for Riyadh to escalate the air war into an invasion.

Asked by an interviewer on pan-Arab television channel al-Arabiya Hadath whether he sought an Arab ground intervention, Yemeni Foreign Minister Riyadh Yaseen responded: "Yes, we are asking for that, and as soon as possible, in order to save our infrastructure and save Yemenis under siege in many cities."

Saudi authorities say they have gathered troops along the border in preparation for any possible ground offensive, but have given no timetable to send them in. Pakistan has also said it is sending troops to support Saudi Arabia.

"There could be a limited ground operation, in specific areas, at specific times. But don't expect there to be an automatic resort to a ground operation," said Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri, spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition.

"I don't want us to concentrate on the land operation as if it is a 'must' ... if it is possible to achieve the goals through other means."

In the southern city of Dhalea, residents reported heavy fighting, with southern secessionist fighters trading artillery fire with Houthis backed up by army units loyal to Saleh.

Repeated air strikes hit Houthi and allied positions, including an ammunition store at a military base, which caused huge explosions. An eyewitness said nine southern fighters were killed, along with around 30 Houthi and allied fighters.

In the east of the country, on the border between Shabwa and Marib province, at least 15 Houthi gunmen and their allies were killed in a clash with tribal fighters, local sources said.

The Houthis are backed by military units still loyal to Saleh, himself a member of their Zaidi sect, who fought to crush the Houthis while in power but has now allied with them.