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Saudi-led strikes hit defense ministry in Yemen capital: witnesses

Des soldats yéménites près du ministère de la Défense à Sanaa, le 6 décembre 2014
AFP /MOHAMMED HUWAIS
The coalition has targeted the defense ministry in the past, leaving it heavily damaged

The Saudi-led coalition carried out two air strikes on the defence ministry in Yemen's rebel-held capital Sanaa late Friday, witnesses and rebel media said, without reporting casualties.

Warplanes continued to circle in the skies above Sanaa after the strikes, the witnesses added. 

The Huthi rebel media outlet Al-Masirah also reported the two air strikes.

The coalition has targeted the defense ministry in the past, leaving it heavily damaged, but the fresh strikes come amid a ratcheting up of tensions between Saudi Arabia and its rival Iran, which backs the Huthi rebels.

The coalition shut down Yemen's borders earlier this week after Saudi forces on Saturday intercepted a ballistic missile fired by the Huthis near the Riyadh airport.

The rebels have threatened additional attacks on Saudi Arabia and its coalition partner the United Arab Emirates in response to the blockade.

The United Nations said on Friday that the coalition is still blocking desperately needed UN aid deliveries to Yemen despite the re-opening of the Yemeni port of Aden and of a land border crossing. 

This week, UN aid chief Mark Lowcock warned the Security Council that, unless the blockade was lifted, Yemen would face "the largest famine the world has seen for many decades, with millions of victims".

The world body has listed Yemen as the world's number one humanitarian crisis, with 17 million people in need of food, seven million of whom are at risk of famine. 

More than 2,000 Yemenis have died in a cholera outbreak now affecting nearly one million people.

Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in neighboring Yemen in March 2015 with the stated aim of rolling back Huthi rebel gains and restoring the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to power.

The Huthis continue to control the capital Sanaa and much of Yemen's north. 

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