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Thursday, March 26, 2015, 17:08

US backs Saudi, allies bombing in Yemen

By Reuters
 US backs Saudi, allies bombing in Yemen
In this photo taken March 24, 2015, militiamen loyal to Yemen's President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi take positions at the al-Anad air base in the southern province of Lahej, 60 kilometers of Aden, Yemen. (AP Photo / Wael Qubady)

WASHINGTON - Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies launched air strikes in Yemen against Houthi fighters who have tightened their grip on the southern city of Aden where the country's president had taken refuge, the Saudi envoy to Washington said on Wednesday.

US President Barack Obama has authorized the provision of logistical and intelligence support to the military operations against Yemen' s Houthi force, the White House said late Wednesday.

A senior leader of Yemen's Houthi movement said on Thursday that Saudi air strikes amounted to an aggression against his country and warned they would set off a "wide war" in the region.

"The Yemeni people are a free people and they will confront the aggressors. I will remind you that the Saudi government and the Gulf governments will regret this aggression," Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, a member of the Houthis Ansarullah politburo, told the Doha-based al Jazeera television.

Saudi Ambassador to Washington Adel al-Jubeir told reporters a 10-country coalition had joined in the military campaign in a bid "to protect and defend the legitimate government" of Yemen President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

 US backs Saudi, allies bombing in Yemen

He declined to give any information on Hadi's whereabouts, but said the president, who has fled his residence, was still running the government along with members of his Cabinet.

Jubeir said Iranian-backed Houthi Shi'ite militants were now in control of the Yemeni air force and of the country's ballistic weapons.

"This is a very dangerous situation and we must do everything we can to protect the people of Yemen and protect the legitimate government of Yemen," Jubeir said at a news conference at the embassy.

While American forces are not taking direct military action in Yemen in support of this effort, the US is establishing a Joint Planning Cell with Saudi Arabia to coordinate US military and intelligence support, Bernadette Meehan, a spokesperson with White House' s National Security Council said in a statement.

Pakistan is considering a request from Saudi Arabia for troops to send to Yemen, its foreign office said on Thursday.

"We have been contacted by Saudi Arabia," said spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam in response to a question about whether Pakistan would send troops. "The matter is being examined."

Jubeir said the operation, which was launched at 23:00 GMT on Wednesday in response to a request for assistance by Hadi, was not limited to one particular city or region.

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