Yemen rebels say Sanaa airport raid hinders aid shipments
SANAA - Authorities in Yemen's rebel-controlled capital said a Saudi-led air strike on Tuesday destroyed a navigation station at Sanaa airport, which is critical to receiving already limited aid shipments.
The strike "led to the total destruction of the VOR/DME radio navigation system, taking it offline and thus halting the only flights at Sanaa airport -- those of the United Nations and other international organisations delivering humanitarian assistance," the rebel-run General Authority for Civil Aviation said in a statement.
Saudi Arabia and its allies tightened a longstanding blockade of Yemen's land, sea and air borders a week ago in response to a missile fired by the Iran-backed Huthi rebels that was intercepted near Riyadh international airport.
The United Nations on Tuesday dismissed a Saudi demand that tighter inspections be put in place at Yemen's rebel-held Hodeida port before a devastating blockade is lifted.
The world body has insisted its aid operations need access to the ports of Hodeida and Saleef, saying that more than two-thirds of the people in need and 80 percent of all cholera cases are closest to the two ports.
The reported air strike on Sanaa airport came as flights resumed to the airport in the government-held southern city of Aden, after the coalition granted permission for them to resume.
An official with the national carrier, Yemenia, announced a commerical flight from Cairo had landed in Aden and later departed, in first in a week.
"The flights will increase gradually in the coming days," the official said, noting Yemenia would resume its four weekly flights from Aden to Cairo, two to Jeddah and Riyadh, three to Amman and one to Khartoum.
Aden's port, which is controlled by allies of Saudi Arabia, does not have the capacity, according to the UN, to handle the necessary volume of humanitarian cargo and would mean hazardous cross-line deliveries.
The Yemen war has killed thousands and brought the impoverished country to the brink of famine, as the coalition continues to fight alongside the government against the Huthis and their ally, strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh.