Smoke billows from the site of an air strike on Al Dailami air base in Yemen's capital Sana'a Image Credit: Reuters

Sana'a: The jet fighters of the air force and air defence of the United Arab Emirates have continued their air strikes on the rebel strongholds in Yemen, reports WAM.

The United Arab Emirates' jet fighters, taking part in the Arab Coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, conducted precise airstrikes that hit the Houthi gatherings and arms caches in Sana'a and al Bayda, where the warehouses for military vehicles were targeted. The rebels' vehicles and gatherings were also hit in Marib.

The jet fighters returned safely to their bases.

Earlier report

Powerful explosions shook the Yemeni capital on Sunday, witnesses said, after the Saudi-led coalition vowed to press its air war following a rebel missile strike that killed dozens of Gulf soldiers.

The UAE had pledged to quickly avenge its heaviest ever military loss after 45 of its soldiers were killed in Friday's missile attack, along with 10 Saudis and five Bahrainis.

The UAE is part of the Arab coalition formed in March aimed at stopping the Iran-backed rebels from taking full control of Yemen and at restoring the rule of exiled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

The latest coalition raids pounded positions of Al Houthi fighters and renegade troops loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was forced to resign in 2012 following a bloody uprising.

Coalition warplanes struck military bases on the Nahdain and Fajj Attan hills and the neighbouring presidential complex, south of Sana'a, as well as a headquarters for special forces.

Also targeted were Al Houthi positions in the northern neighbourhoods of Sufan and Al Nahda, forcing scores of residents to flee, the witnesses said. Witnesses said Sunday's bombardment was one of the heaviest since the air campaign began.

"The first strike after dawn prayers shook our house," said Sadeq Al Juhayfi, a resident of Al Haffa, southeast of Sanaa, where a military base was targeted.

Witnesses in the area said explosions were still heard around midday at the base, suggesting it housed an arms depot.

On Saturday, Saudi-led coalition warplanes struck government buildings controlled by Al Houthi fighters in the Yemeni capital Sana’a and army units loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh after at least 50 coalition soldiers were killed on Friday.

Among the targets, the Defence Ministry building in Sana’a was very heavily damaged, residents said. Strikes hit the command of the special security forces and camps of Saleh as well as the presidential complex.

The UAE, too, bombarded Yemeni rebels with air strikes on Saturday as it mourned 45 soldiers.

Emirati officials vowed that the deaths in a missile attack in the battleground eastern oil province of Marib would not sap their commitment to the coalition’s mission to restore exiled President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

The missile hit an arms depot, triggering huge explosions.

The coalition launched its air war when Hadi left for Saudi Arabia in March after the rebels entered his last refuge, Yemen’s second city Aden.

After Hadi loyalists recaptured the southern port city in July, the coalition launched a ground operation, which has seen the rebels pushed back from five southern provinces, although they still control the capital Sana’a and much of the north and centre.

UAE troops have played a leading role in the campaign and seven of its soldiers had been killed in fighting earlier.

UAE warplanes retaliated with pre-dawn bombing raids against the rebels in Marib and Sana’a as well as their stronghold of Saada in the far north and the central city of Ibb, state media reported.

Coalition aircraft unleashed waves of air strikes on the rebel-held capital from the early hours.

“These are the heaviest air strikes that Sana’a has endured,” a local official said.

The streets remained deserted as the bombing continued into the daylight hours.

Coalition warplanes also bombed the rebel position from which the missile is believed to have been fired, a local official and witnesses said.

The Baihan district of Shabwa province, which borders Marib, is one of the rebels’ last redoubts in the south.

Al Houthis said they had fired a Tochka missile at the Safer camp in Marib.

The province is the location of Yemen’s main oil fields and has seen fierce fighting in recent weeks as loyalist forces and their coalition allies have advanced north.

Loyalist military sources said that the coalition had sent reinforcements to the Safer base this week, including tanks, armoured vehicles, troop carriers, rocket launchers and Apache helicopters.

The extra hardware and troops were intended to boost “the counter-offensive launched by loyalist forces and the coalition to advance on Sana’a”, one military official said.

More than 4,500 people have been killed in the conflict according to the United Nations.