Saudi Arabia has launched a military operation – including air strikes – in Yemen against Houthi Shia rebels, the Saudi ambassador in the US has said. Adel al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia acted to “defend the legitimate government” of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. The Iran-backed rebels have made rapid gains in recent months, forcing Mr Hadi to flee the capital Sanaa.
Residents said explosions could be heard in Sanaa and the city’s airport after the Saudi announcement. Meanwhile, Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, senior Houthi rebel, warned that the Saudi operation amounted to an aggression against Yemen and could set off a “wide war” in the region, according to Reuters news agency.Recent developments have also raised fears that Iran – who is Saudi Arabia’s major regional rival – could be drawn into the conflict.