Saudi-led coalition, that intensified aerial attacks on Houthis’ hideouts Sunday, has taken complete control of the Yemeni airspace after four days of airstrikes, said Brig. Gen. Ahmad Al-Assiri, a consultant at the office of defense minister.
“No plane from any country including Iran carrying military supplies has landed in Yemen since the launch of airstrikes,” confirmed Al-Assiri, while addressing a press conference at Riyadh Air Base.
“No fighter jets or civilian aircraft can fly in the Yemeni airspace without the coordination and prior approval of the military coalition’s command and control system,” said Al-Assiri, while speaking to newsmen at the Riyadh Air Base.
“The coalition forces have sealed all air routes used to deliver military equipment to Houthis,” said the official.
The coalition is stepping up pressure on the Houthis and their allies, he said.
“There will be no safe place for the Houthi militia groups,” he said.
Al-Assiri confirmed that the coalition forces had “ensured a safe corridor by suspending operations around Hodeidah Airport in Yemen on Sunday for a few hours to allow Pakistan to evacuate its citizens.
Pakistan earlier sent a jumbo jet and a naval frigate to evacuate its nationals and diplomatic staff stranded in that country. About 482 Pakistanis were evacuated on the first flight on Sunday.
In the press briefing, he also spoke about the intensified air strikes, coalition’s military buildups along Yemen border and evacuation of foreigners, especially Pakistani nationals from Yemen.
He reiterated that “the airstrikes had destroyed huge stockpiles of foreign-made arms and ammunitions including fighter jets owned and operated by Houthi militants.”
He said that the coalition of 10 countries, that began bombing Yemen on Thursday, had also “devastated” all known Scud missile launching pads and airbases being used by the militants in Yemen.
Earlier on Sunday, coalition warplanes mounted a series of strikes against the Houthis’ northern heartland, which borders Saudi Arabia, he added.
The regional coalition made up of Saudi Arabia,UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, Morocco, Egypt and Sudan as well as Pakistan “have been closely coordinating” action plan, he said.
In fact, the precision airstrikes have been guided by intelligence-gathering operations over the past months to identify potential targets with an aim to avoid collateral damages.
“Operations that were conducted included intelligence sharing, electronic surveillance of the capabilities of Houthis, and evaluation of the equipment used by the Houthi forces,” said Al-Assiri.
In reply to a question about the massive deployment of troops and military trucks near Jazan, which suggests an imminent ground incursion by coalition forces within a few days from now, Assiri said: “It is natural to be prepared, when you are at war.”
According to reports, the coalition is “well prepared” along the borders as conflict in Yemen risks spilling out into the busy routes overland as well as to the sea lanes including the narrow Bab El-Mandeb passage through which nearly four million barrels of oil are shipped daily to different countries around the world.
But, Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi ambassador to the US, said on NBC’s Meet the Press program on Sunday that the Kingdom has not made any decision to send ground troops.
The Saudi officials, however, admit that they didn’t plan to deploy ground troops but were coordinating with forces in Yemen who support returning to power the country’s president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who is backed also by the international community including the US and Europe.
Asked about the impact of airstrikes so far, he said that the Houthi’s capabilities had been substantially crippled.
Airstrikes, during the last two days, targeted an airbase in rebel-held Hudaida in western Yemen, and a base of the Houthi’s artillery brigade in Saada, as well as a number of other locations with concentration of Houthi militants and their stockpiles of arms, he noted.

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