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Yemen’s Rebels Defy Saudis, Advance Despite Airstrikes

SANAA, Yemen — Yemen's Shiite rebels pressed their offensive in the country's south on Thursday as a Saudi-led coalition bombarded them from the air in at least six cities, less than two days after announcing the end of a monthlong campaign against the Iran-supported militants.

Riyadh had said Tuesday that it was entering a new phase in its campaign against the Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, who captured Yemen's capital last year. The air campaign is aimed at rolling back the rebels and restoring President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, a close U.S. ally who fled to Saudi Arabia last month.

The coalition's spokesman said operation "Decisive Storm" was ending and announced the start of a new phase called "Renewal of Hope," which would focus on diplomacy, humanitarian aid and counterterrorism.

But hours after the announcement, new airstrikes hit rebels and their allies — suggesting the U.S.-backed offensive was being scaled back but not halted.

The strikes continued on Thursday, officials and witnesses said, as the Houthis sent reinforcements to the south, where they have been trying to capture the port city of Aden.

The Saudi-led coalition, which includes the kingdom's Gulf allies as well as Egypt and Sudan, began launching airstrikes March 26 in a bid to crush the Houthis and allied military units loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

At least six airstrikes Thursday targeted an air base, a military camp, and a number of weapon caches in the western port city of Houdida. In the western city of Taiz, warplanes bombed the headquarters of Battalion 35, led by pro-Saleh commanders. In the nearby city of Ibb, the airstrikes targeted an educational institute and a college suspected of being used by Houthis to store weapons, Yemeni officials said.

Airstrikes in Aden targeted hotels and a police club occupied by Houthis and Saleh loyalists, and in the central province of Marib warplanes targeted rebel reinforcements. In the city of Dhale, another gateway to the south, airstrikes targeted schools and clubs suspected of being used by the Houthis to store weapons and assemble fighters. Residents said the Houthis and Saleh's forces were shelling Dhale.

IN-DEPTH

— The Associated Press