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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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Saudi Arabia joins UN in evacuating civilians and diplomats from Yemen

The Houthi rebels are backed by Iran

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Saudi Arabia has sent its navy to Yemen to evacuate dozens of its own and foreign diplomats from Yemen's southern city of Aden.

The evacuation comes after a third night of airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition failed to halt Houthi rebels advancing towards the city.

Yemen President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi fled Aden on Wednesday for Saudi Arabia as rebels closed in on the city, his last remaining stronghold after he was forced to flee the capital Sanaa several weeks ago.

He addressed an Arab League summit focused on the crisis on Saturday in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, urging Arab states to launch a ground offensive against the rebels.

The Houthi rebels are backed by Saudi Arabia's regional rival, Iran, which has criticised Saudi Arabia's airstrikes as counter-productive toward the securing of a peace plan between Yemen's warring factions.

"The Saudi Royal Navy implemented an operation called Tornado to evacuate dozens of diplomats, including Saudis, from Aden," Saudi state TV reported Saturday.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait relocated their embassies to Aden last month after Houthi rebel forces took over the capital Sanaa, most western nations evacuated their staff then.

The United Nations also evacuated its personnel from Yemen Saturday.

The annual Arab League summit was meant to discuss the establishment of a joint Arab military force, but instead focused on the Yemen crisis, which many fear is escalating into a full civil war.

The Yemeni Foreign Minister Riad Yassin said on Friday that there was an "arrangement" for ground troops of the Saudi-led coalition to deploy in Yemen and US President Barack Obama has reaffirmed his support for the operation.

The US military on Friday rescued two Saudi pilots who ejected from their F-15 fighter jet over the Gulf of Aden during the coalition airstrikes, a US defence official said.

Residents in both Sanaa and Aden reported an intense overnight bombardment. At least 39 civilians - including six children under the age of 10 - have been killed during the three days of bombings, according to the Yemen health ministry.> BNN

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