It is the first air strike that the alliance has confirmed carrying out at the airport since peace talks last week in Sweden.

The Saudi-led coalition said it struck the air base next to Sanaa's international airport, destroying a rocket launcher and a drone that it said was preparing to carry out an attack. (December 13, 2018)
The Saudi-led coalition said it struck the air base next to Sanaa's international airport, destroying a rocket launcher and a drone that it said was preparing to carry out an attack. (December 13, 2018) (Reuters)

The Saudi-led coalition fighting on the side of Yemen's government said it launched an air strike on Wednesday at the airport in the rebel-held capital Sanaa, destroying a drone.

It is the first air strike that the alliance has confirmed carrying out at the airport since peace talks last week in Sweden that resulted in a ceasefire accord for the battleground port city of Hudaida.

The coalition said in a statement that it targeted an unmanned aerial vehicle and "destroyed the aircraft that was in the process of preparing to be launched, thwarting an imminent terrorist attack".

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

The strike on Wednesday comes nearly a week after an agreement between the government and the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels on the withdrawal of fighters from Hudaida 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 Sanaa airport, which has been closed to commercial flights for nearly three years.

The airport will be discussed at the next round of talks, UN 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.

Ceasefire agreement

A fragile ceasefire this week halted months of heavy fighting in Yemen's port city of Hudaida, through which the country imports 70 percent of its food and humanitarian aid. 

Yet residents reported shelling late on Tuesday, the first day of the truce, for nearly one hour on the eastern and southern outskirts of the Houthi-held Red Sea city, a lifeline for millions.

The agreement came during UN-sponsored talks in Sweden last week. A joint committee led by UN officers will oversee the cease-fire and the redeployment of the warring parties' forces out of Hudaida, which is currently controlled by the Houthis. Local authorities and police will run the city and its three port facilities under UN supervision, and the two sides are barred from bringing in reinforcements.

The war between the Houthi Shia rebels and troops loyal to President Abedrabbo 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.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies