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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, October 15, 2018

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Saudi Arabia led coalition resumes air raids as Iranian warships arrive near Yemen

Iranian warships has arrived near the southern coast of Yemen

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SANA'A - The Saudi Arabia-led coalition resumed airstrikes in Yemen on Wednesday despite Riyadh announcing a day ago that it was ending its nearly month-long air strikes campaign against Shiite Houthi rebels. Meanwhile, a fleet of Iranian warships has arrived near the southern coast of Yemen, adding to the tension in the region.

The Saudi Arabia-led airstrikes took place in the southern port city of Aden and the central city of Taiz as battles between Houthis and supporters of exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi continued.

The rebels called for the resumption of dialogue Wednesday. "We welcome any United Nations efforts that are on the side of peaceful solutions," Houthi spokesman Mohamed Abdul-Salam said in a statement.

White House spokesperson Eric Schultz told reporters Wednesday that efforts must now shift from military operations to "rapid, unconditional response of all party negotiations that allow Yemen to resume an inclusive political transition process."

"There's going to be no military solution to this problem, only one that is solved at the diplomatic table," he said.

The Saudi announcement of ending the air campaign had drawn positive responses from both the White House and Iran.

The move had also prompted fresh calls for peace talks and for urgent deliveries of humanitarian aid.

But hours later, the air strikes and ground fighting resumed and the International Red Cross described the humanitarian situation as "catastrophic".

The Houthis continued to lay siege Wednesday to the southern port city of Aden, indicating the difficulty of halting the fighting in Yemen.

Residents in the city of Taiz said Houthi fighters were targeted by multiple airstrikes by the coalition of mainly Sunni Arab countries that began an air offensive on March 26.

On Wednesday, a fleet of Iranian warships arrived near the southern coast of Yemen in a move likely to ratchet up tension.

Just days after the United States announced it would send its own warships to Yemen in order to prevent Iran from smuggling weapons to terror forces fighting there, a flotilla of Iranian destroyers docked in the same area.

The Iranian fleet includes a destroyer warship and a helicopter-carrying warship.

The warships will "protect [Iran's] cargo ships and oil tankers against pirates," according to Iran's Fars News Agency.

The United States and other countries fear Iran is using these cargo ships to deliver weapons and other deadly hardware to opposition forces in Yemen.

The Iranian warships will remain in the area for at least three months, according to Fars.

Iranian military officials have been defiant about the country's presence in the region, vowing to remain there despite pressure from other countries.

"This presence [of Iranian warships] continues in the free waters, including the Gulf of Aden, to fight against piracy according to the plan which was drawn at the request of the International Maritime Organization and no one can warn the Iranian warships (to move away) and this has not happened yet," Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari was quoted as saying in the Iranian press over the weekend.

"Iran will not be deterred by threats from Saudi Arabia or other countries to leave the region," Sayyari said.

The United States recently sent its own fleet of warships to the region in a bid to foil Iranian efforts to smuggle weapons to rebel forces in Yemen.

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