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Saudi-led coalition ‘destroys drone’ in airstrike at Yemen’s Sana’a airport

The Saudi-led coalition fighting on the side of Yemen’s government said it launched an airstrike at the airport in the rebel-held capital Sana’a, destroying a drone.

It is the first airstrike that the alliance has confirmed carrying out since a ceasefire was agreed at peace talks in Sweden last week for the battleground port city of Hodeidah.

The coalition said in a statement carried by the Saudi state-run Al-Ekhbariya news channel that it targeted an unmanned aerial vehicle and “destroyed the aircraft that was in the process of preparing to be launched.”

The coalition said that the Houthis are using the airport “as a military camp in violation of international humanitarian law”.

The strike Wednesday comes nearly a week after an agreement between the government and the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels on the withdrawal of fighters from Hodeidah and a planned swap of around 15,000 prisoners.

A “mutual understanding” was also reached to facilitate aid deliveries to Yemen’s third city Taiz – under the control of loyalists but besieged by rebels.

No deal was reached on the future of Sana’a airport, which has been closed to commercial flights for nearly three years.

The airport will be discussed at the next round of talks, United Nations envoy Martin Griffiths said.

The two sides have agreed to meet again in late January to define the framework for negotiations on a comprehensive peace settlement.

The war between the Houthi rebels and troops loyal to President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi escalated in 2015, when he fled into Saudi exile and the coalition intervened.

Since then, the war has killed some 10,000 people, according to the World Health Organization, although human rights groups say the real death toll could be five times as high.

The conflict has also pushed 14 million people to the brink of famine in what the United Nations describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

With reporting from AFP

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