Bombing kills 20 people including Houthi air force general Abdullah Qassem al Junaid and his family members, rebel media and medics say, following Iran-backed rebels' drone attack on UAE oil facilities.

Search and rescue operations are ongoing after Saudi-led coalition air strikes killed over a dozen in Yemen's capital Sanaa.
Search and rescue operations are ongoing after Saudi-led coalition air strikes killed over a dozen in Yemen's capital Sanaa. (Reuters)

The Saudi-led coalition has killed nearly two dozen people in air strikes on Yemen's rebel-held capital, a medical source and local officials said, after an attack by Houthi rebels on the United Arab Emirates sent regional tensions soaring.

Coalition strikes around the city overnight killed a total of about 20 people, the deputy foreign minister for the Houthi administration, which holds much of northern Yemen, said on Tuesday.

Sanaa residents were combing the rubble for survivors of the strikes that levelled two houses, hours after the Houthis had killed three people on Monday in a drone and missile attack on the UAE capital Abu Dhabi.

Around those killed in coalition air strikes was a high-ranking Houthi military official, including his wife and son.

Houthi Brigadier General Abdullah Qassem al Junaid, director of the rebels' air force academy, was killed along with family members, the rebels' Saba news agency said on Tuesday.

Coalition forces launched further strikes on Sanaa on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, men combed through the rubble, strewn with belongings, books and twisted metal, as well as debris from heavily damaged neighbouring houses.

At the scene, Ahmad al-Ahdal said his uncle's house was hit after the strike on Junaid's home.

"My uncle went in with rescuers to extract the victims in Junaid's house," he said. "We have been unable to find him since then."

"The search is still going on for survivors in the rubble."

READ MORE: Deadly 'drone strike' hits UAE as Houthis announce military operations

Together 'against aggression'

The UAE, part of the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Iran-backed rebels, has vowed a tough response to Monday's attack, the first deadly assault acknowledged inside its borders and claimed by the Yemeni insurgents.

The attack on the renowned Middle East safe haven of the UAE opened a new front in the seven-year war and followed a surge in fighting in Yemen, including battles between the rebels and UAE-trained troops.

Crude prices soared to seven-year highs partly because of the Abu Dhabi attacks, which exploded fuel tanks near storage facilities of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). The Houthis later warned UAE residents to avoid "vital installations".

Yemen occupies a strategic position on the Red Sea, a vital conduit for oil from the resource-rich Gulf.

After the attacks, Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed agreed to "jointly stand up to these acts of aggression", UAE state media said.

READ MORE: Yemen's Houthis reject UN plea to release UAE-flagged vessel

UN deplores 'civilian casualties'

But the deadly Saudi counter-strikes against the Houthis received harsh criticism from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who said he "deplores" the "numerous civilian casualties," his spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.

Guterres "again calls upon all parties to exercise maximum restraint and prevent further escalation and intensification of the conflict," Dujarric added.

The UAE has demanded an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.

The Abu Dhabi attack marked a new phase in the Yemen war and further reduced hopes of any resolution to the conflict, which has displaced millions in what was already the Arabian peninsula's poorest country.

Yemen's civil war began in 2014 when the Houthis seized the capital Sanaa, prompting Saudi-led forces to intervene to prop up the government the following year.

The conflict has been a catastrophe for millions of its citizens who have fled their homes, with many on the brink of famine in what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The UN has estimated the war killed 377,000 people by the end of 2021, both directly and indirectly through hunger and disease.

READ MORE: UN expresses ‘deep concern’ over escalating conflict in Yemen

Source: TRTWorld and agencies