Military vehicles carrying Gulf Arab soldiers arrive at Yemen’s northern province of Marib yesterday. Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: UAE fighter jets participated in strikes against several Al Houthi-controlled weapons depots in Sana’a before returning safely to their base Tuesday.
The strikes come amid a planned massive offensive in Yemen’s north by the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed Al Houthi militia.

At least 10,000 loyalist troops were preparing an air and ground offensive, according to a news agency run by Yemen’s exiled government. The alliance, made up mainly of Gulf Arab countries, has intensified air strikes on Sana’a and other parts of the country since Friday, when an Al Houthi missile attack killed at least 60 Saudi, Bahraini and Emirati soldiers at a military camp east of Sana’a.

Friday’s attack was the deadliest yet for Gulf soldiers in the war and may herald a turning point as Saudi-allied countries appear to be committing to a ground war they had so far avoided.

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera TV reported that the number of forces deployed by the alliance had risen to 10,000, including 1,000 Qatari soldiers who crossed the Al Wadia border from Saudi Arabia.

Yesterday, a Qatari official confirmed the deployment to AFP. Also, around 6,000 Egyptian and Sudanese troops were also expected to join the fight, according to the Saudi-owned newspaper Al Sharq Al Awsat. The Sudanese government did not comment on the report but it was corroborated by an Egyptian official who spoke to Reuters as well as the Qatari source.

After five months of air strikes by a Saudi-led coalition and ground combat between Iran-backed militia and coalition-supported fighters, Yemen “is bracing for a new and more deadly phase of violence in the north”, said April Longley Alley of the International Crisis Group.