SANAA, Yemen (Dispatches) – Saudi Arabia bombed the airport in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, Tuesday, Yemeni officials said, though there were conflicting reports as to the extension of damage caused in the strike.
The United Nations said most of the airport remained intact and that it would be able to receive aid shipments once they restart - after Saudi Arabia loosens the blockade of the war-torn country as it had announced.
But Yemeni officials in Sana’a, which is held by Houthis, said the airports runway and a ground navigation tower were damaged. Repair crews were already at work, they added, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to talk to reporters.
Jamie McGoldrick of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said UN staff had visited the airport and spoken with authorities there, and that its "runway, taxiway, ramp, terminal and air traffic control tower were not hit and are in good condition."
"This will have no impact on our operations once they resume," McGoldrick said in an email from Amman, Jordan.
Saudi Arabia has been pounding Yemen since March 2015. The kingdom blockades all Yemen air, land and sea ports last week in response to a ballistic missile attack on Riyadh.
Riyadh said on Monday that it would reopen ports in areas held by militants under its support and loosen restrictions it had raised after the firing of the missile.
However, McGoldrick said earlier in the day that there was "no indication" Saudi Arabia was actually lifting the blockade in line with its announcement.
He said that the Saudi announcements of the availability of two ports in southern Yemen are "helpful," but that the key need is access to the Red Sea ports of Salif and Hudaydah, closer to large population centers, which are currently inaccessible to UN aid shipments. Both ports are in the territory held by Houthi fighters and allies.
The airport drama came as Daesh struck a fresh blow to Saudi-backed militants in the country's south, where a car bombing early on Tuesday killed at least six people in the port city of Aden and wounded scores.
The Daesh-claimed attack took place at a building in the Sheikh Othman district in the central part of the city. Residents several kilometers away heard a large explosion and saw thick black smoke rising from the area.
The security building is an operations center for the Security Belt, a parallel body to the government's forces that is trained by the United Arab Emirates, a main pillar in the Saudi invasion that has backed former Yemeni president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and waged a two-year air campaign against Yemen.