New Saudi-led airstrikes hit Yemen
Saudi-led coalition warplanes bombed targets in Yemen overnight despite an announcement by Riyadh that it was ending its campaign of airstrikes, while renewed fighting raged on the ground between rebels and forces loyal to the exiled president.
The raids hit rebel positions close to the capital Sanaa, around the third city Taiz, and in the central town of Yarim, witnesses said Thursday.
Residents said strikes were also carried out in the southern province of Lahj as well as around the approach to the main southern city of Aden, where clashes between rebels and fighters loyal to exiled President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi raged overnight.
Riyadh said Tuesday the coalition had halted its month-long campaign against anti-Hadi forces after eliminating the threat posed to Saudi Arabia and its neighbours by the rebels' air and missile capabilities.
But it vowed to carry out targeted strikes on the rebels 'when necessary'.
On Wednesday it launched new raids on Houthi rebels who overran a major base of pro-Hadi troops in Taiz, where further strikes were reported overnight.
Northeast of Sanaa, raids targeted positions held by the Houthies and rebel troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
And in Yarim, warplanes hit an old university building used as a headquarters by the rebels, according to residents.
The Houthis and their allies remain in control of Sanaa and swathes of the country while Hadi has taken refuge in Riyadh.
US 'concerned' about Iran ships
US Defence Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday he was concerned that Iranian ships heading toward Yemen may be carrying advanced weapons for the Houthi rebels, and moving a US aircraft carrier to the region gives the president options.
Earlier in the week, the US said one of its aircraft carriers was headed to the Arabian Sea to monitor an Iranian convoy suspected of carrying weapons to the rebels in violation of a UN embargo.
The US Navy said it was sending the USS Theodore Roosevelt and guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy "to ensure the vital shipping lanes in the region remain open and safe."
The deployment brings to nine the number of US warships in the area.
The Iranian convoy is comprised of nine ships, including two patrol boats, a senior US defence official told AFP, saying its exact destination was unknown.
Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steven Warren denied reports the US warships have orders to intercept the Iranian vessels.
The rebels in Yemen meanwhile have demanded a complete end to attacks by a Saudi-led coalition as a condition for their participation in UN-sponsored talks.
"We demand, after a complete end to the aggression against Yemen and the lifting of the blockade, to resume political dialogue under the sponsorship of the United Nations," Mohammed Abdulsalam, the spokesman for the Houthi rebels said in a statement.
Forces loyal to exiled President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi have been battling the rebels and their allies, who overran the capital last year, in a string of cities across the south and centre.
The Saudi-led coalition announced late on Tuesday that it was halting the air campaign it launched on 26 March in support of Hadi's forces.
The violence raging in Yemen since late March has killed 944 people and injured 3,487 as of 17 April, the World Health Organisation said Tuesday, and left this Arab country on the brink of collapse.