Saudi Arabia and its allies have launched a military offensive including air strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen.
The Shia rebels have been advancing on the country’s second city of Aden, leading to fears that the whole country could soon be under their control.
Jordan has confirmed its involvement in the air strikes, while Saudi Arabia has reportedly mobilised as many as 150,000 troops and 100 warplanes.
There are reports that planes from several countries were taking part in the operation: including Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain. Pakistan has said it is considering a request from Saudi Arabia for troops to send to Yemen.
Forces loyal to President Hadi claim to have retaken Aden’s international airport after the rebels gained control of it and another airbase on Wednesday.
A Houthi-run TV channel has reported dozens of casualties in a residential area north of Yemen’s capital Sanaa, which is under rebel control.
Al-Masirah TV says they include women and children.
Explosions have been heard at the airport and in the city.
Iran is said to be supporting the Houthis but a rebel official has reportedly said they can face the airstrikes without Iranian help.
Iranian state television says the country’s foreign ministry has condemned the Saudi-led air strikes in Yemen.
Internationally there are fears of a wider conflict and a disruption to global oil supplies.
The Saudis say they responded to a request from Yemen’s president.
“We will do whatever it takes in order to protect the legitimate government of Yemen from falling and from facing any dangers from outside militia. We have a situation where you have a militia group that is now in control or can be in control of ballistic missiles, of heavy weapons, and of an Air Force,” said Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi Ambassador to the US.
President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi had recently called on his allies for help. Up to ten countries appear to be responding including the US with logistical and intelligence support.
Reports that President Hadi had fled Aden were denied yesterday, as the rebels pressed on the city causing scenes of chaos in the streets.
Over the past year the rebels have fought their way out of their northern strongholds and worked their way south towards Aden which is Yemen’s economic hub. The president has been holed up there since fleeing Sanaa last month.
Yemen’s turmoil has raised the spectre of a possible Cold War-style conflict with Iran backing Shia Houthis on one side, and Saudi Arabia on the other side leading a coalition of Sunni Muslim nations.