Saudi-led coalition bombs Yemen runway to stop Iranian plane landing

Coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri says pilot had ignored a warning to turn back
Saudi-led coalition bombs Yemen runway to stop Iranian plane landing
Supporters of the Shiite Houthi movement brandish their weapons against the Saudi-led military Decisive Storm air campaign. (AFP/Getty Images)
By Reuters
Tue 28 Apr 2015 08:54 PM

Jets of a Saudi Arabian-led coalition bombed the runway of Sanaa airport on Tuesday afternoon to prevent an Iranian plane from landing in the Yemeni capital, the coalition's spokesman said.

Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri told Reuters the plane had not coordinated with coalition authorities and the pilot had ignored a warning to turn back. The bombing of the runway made it unusable for planned aid flights, he said.

Iran's state news agency IRNA said Saudi jets tried to force what it said was an aid plane back after it entered Yemeni airspace, but the pilots had ignored these "illegal warnings".

The jets then bombed Sanaa airport as the plane was making an approach to land, forcing it to turn back, IRNA said. It said the plane, belonging to the Red Crescent, was carrying food and medical aid to Sanaa.

IRNA said the plane had been given permission to fly the route by Oman, whose airspace it passed through, and the Houthi militia which controls Sanaa airport.

A month of Saudi-led air strikes have targeted the Houthi militia, which has strong relations with Iran and controls most of western Yemen including Sanaa.

The strikes and ground fighting between the Houthis and forces loyal to the government in exile in Riyadh have worsened an existing humanitarian crisis in Yemen, aid agencies say.

Asseri told Reuters the coalition would help to repair the runway if the Houthis lifted their control of the airport.

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