KUWAIT, March 27 (KUNA) -- The Saudi-led "Operation Decisive Storm" against the Yemeni Houthi militia and troops loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh continued to derive large-scale regional and international support on Friday.
The coalition launched fresh airstrikes that cut the supply route between Sana'a and the stronghold of the Houthi rebels in the northern governorate of Sa'dah and destroyed a bridge used by the Houthis for transporting militants and munitions, Brig.-Gen. Ahmad Asiri, adviser to the Saudi Minister of Defense, said in his daily briefing in Riyadh.
"Saudi Apaches pounded Houthi military camps near the borders with Yemen while UAE warplanes hit air defense bases and arms caches in several parts of Yemen," he said, noting that there were no ground movements near the borders.
The air campaign also led to the destruction of a runway at Al-Anad airbase, south Yemen, and a number of warplanes captured by the Houthis in several airbases, Brig. Gen. Asiri disclosed.
He added that the forces loyal to the legitimate President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the popular committees continue defending the Yemeni people against the Houthi and the forces loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
"We coordinate with the pro-legitimacy troops and the popular committees. Our reconnaissance aircraft fly over Yemen around the clock," he said, advising the Yemenis to keep away from the Houthi locations.
"We will not allow anybody to provide the Houthis with weapons and our operations are meant to support legitimacy and maintain Yemen's unity and stability," he made clear.
The Operation Decisive Storm gains momentum with several countries in the Middle East, notably Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan and Turkey, stating readiness to take part in the operation, while other countries stated unequivocal support to it.
In Cairo Egypt's President Abdelfatah Al-Sisi renewed commitment to the security of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) States.
"Security of the Gulf is a redline and integral to Egypt's national security," Sisi said during a phone call he received from Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, late Thursday night.
The president underlined the need for joining forces to counter challenges facing the Arab region, presidential spokesman Alaa Youssef said in a statement.
For his part, King Salman expressed appreciation to Egypt's political and military support to Operation "Decisive Storm" in Yemen, Youssef noted.
The two leaders addressed topics on the agenda of the 26th Arab Summit due in Egypt on Saturday, with terrorism on top as "a direct threat to the Arab national security." President Al-Sisi discussed the latest developments of the military operation in a phone conversation initiated by Saudi Minister of Defense Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
He also discussed the issue with Bahraini King Hamad bin Essa Al-Khalifa who arrived earlier today in Sharm El-Sheikh for the 26th Arab summit, due to open tomorrow Saturday.
King Hamad said that the nature of current challenges outlines the need for Arab nations to acknowledge that there is an "evidently dangerous deterioration" on all levels.
"The deterioration of economic and security conditions, alongside a lack of joint Arab projects and initiatives have created a dangerous void, and this has provided an opportunity for regional and international interventions in our internal affairs," he affirmed. In Rabat the Moroccan Royal Court said late last night King Mohammad VI and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud discussed by phone the latest developments of the situation in Yemen and other regional issues.
King Mohammad VI affirmed Morocco's full support to the Saudi-led coalition to restore legitimacy and stability in Yemen.
He put the warplanes of the Moroccan Air Force, stationed in the UAE, at the disposal of the multi-national coalition.
On his part, King Salman expressed gratitude to the Moroccan monarch for his support to Saudi Arabia and the other GCC states.
In Islamabad, Pakistani Minister for Defense Khwaja Asif said his country will defend Saudi Arabia in face of any danger threatening its territorial integrity.
In a policy statement at the National Assembly, the minister said his government has made a pledge to defend Saudi Arabia in case of any danger to its territorial integrity.
Pakistan has proposed dispatching a delegation of senior officials to Riyadh to assess the Saudis' defense requirements.
He said that Pakistan would play its role for creation of unity and solidarity among the Muslim countries. "Pakistan is ready to adopt whatever role is needed in order to facilitate the termination of conflicts in the Islamic world," he added.
Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan and the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud discussed by phone the current developments in Yemen.
Erdogan expressed his grave concern over the Houthi militiamen's violations to agreements inked by Yemen and to the United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Erdogan told King Salman that the international community is concerned over steps that pose a threat to the region's stability and security and to the Yemen's unity and territorial integrity.
The two leaders emphasized their commitment to upgrading the bilateral relations to higher levels.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reaffirmed that his country's is ready for providing any kind of support, except the military one, to the Operation Decisive Storm against Houthis.
He added that he would meet with Gulf officials to determine the kinds of support to the operation.
In Brussels the NATO expressed concern over developments in Yemen and blamed the Houthi rebels for endangering the political process.
"We are concerned by recent developments in Yemen. Instability in the country could have serious consequences for the wider region," a NATO official told KUNA.
"We condemn the recent offensive actions undertaken by Houthi forces and units loyal to former President Saleh. Their actions have endangered the political process and the Yemeni people," said the official speaking on condition of anonymity.
"All parties should resolve their differences through dialogue and a return to negotiations," the official added.
In Berlin the German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said Operation Decisive Storm is "legitimate and commensurate with the international law." "We have no doubts over the legitimacy of military operations (in Yemen," he told reporters today, noting at the same time the need for a political settlement in Yemen.
He added that Saudi Arabia had been invited into Yemen by the Yemeni president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi who was elected democratically.
Schaefer hoped that that the military operation in Yemen would be short and favored a political solution to Yemen's problems.
On his part, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said his government understands the motives behind the military operation.
Houthi militia has isolated a democratically elected president (Hadi), drove him out of Sanaa and tracked him down in the southern city of Aden, so he appealed for help from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries, Steinmeier noted.
"Therefore, we understand the Saudi stance," the minister affirmed.
He ruled out the possibility that the Yemeni crisis could affect nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group.
Similarly, Italian Foreign Affairs Minister Paolo Gentiloni said his country understands the motives behind the Operation Decisive Storm and the Saudis' concern about the Houthis' control over Yemen.
At a briefing to the parliamentary committee on security and intelligence affairs Gentiloni said discussed with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal the situation in Yemen ahead of the start of the Operation.
He noted that the Operation is meant to deter the Houthi militia and reinstate the legitimate government of President Hadi.
The first phase of the Operation started in the small hours of Thursday and achieved its set targets including the neutralization of the Houthis' aid defense capabilities, the Saudi military command said yesterday. (end) gb