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Saudi-led coalition strikes Saada province, Yemen

Residents were given a day to evacuate before the airstrikes bagan.

By Ed Adamczyk
Saudi-led coalition strikes Saada province, Yemen
An F-15 fighter plane, an element of the Royal Saudi Air Force. The Saudi-led coalition warned residents of Saada province, Yemen, to vacate Friday, then carried out airstrikes on Houthi rebels there. Photo Courtesy of wikimedia.org/ H. Deffner/ U.S. Department of Defense.

SAADA , Yemen, May 8 (UPI) -- The Saudi-led coalition warned residents of Saada province, Yemen, to vacate Friday, then carried out airstrikes on Houthi rebels there.

Al Ekhbariya, a Saudi state television channel, warned early Friday the entire province of 4,392 square miles in northwestern Yemen and on the border with Saudi Arabia, that the city was considered a military target. Leaflets dropped in the old Saada district of the province's capital and largest city, also named Saada and with a population of 770,000, urged residents to leave, adding that all roads in the province were available to civilians, for purposes of evacuation, until sunset.

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The area is a bastion of Houthi rebels, who overtook the city in 2011.

Airstrikes were then carried out by the coalition of 10 Arab Gulf nations, with no reports of deaths, injuries or damage.

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The escalation in the conflict, in which the Iran-backed Houthi rebels overthrew the Yemeni government in 2014 and the Saudis seek a return to power of President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, came after a five-day truce, backed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, was proposed.

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The campaign marks the first time the coalition said it was attacking the entire Houthi leadership, Al Jazeera reported Friday. It comes after artillery fired from Saada province killed eight people, earlier this week, in the Saudi city of Narjan.

"Our work now is reaching those (Houthi rebels) who planned these attacks and who are hiding in Saada, and the places where the militias are. Our military operation will be longer and harsher, and will go after all Houthi commanders," said coalition spokesman Gen. Ahmed al-Asiri.

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