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Saudi Arabia restarts airstrikes hours after stopping

Saudi Arabia’s halt on bombings in Yemen lasted only hours. The Saudi military had announced the end of the U.S.-backed air campaign on Tuesday, but with the caveat that it would continue to prevent further operations by Houthi militias. Within hours, the coalition struck targets in Taiz and across southern Yemen. Judy Woodruff reports.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Now to Yemen, where hopes of a cease-fire seem farther away, as violence continues.

    For a month, airstrikes by Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies pounded Shiite Houthi rebels across Yemen. Then, late Tuesday, the Saudi military announced the end of the U.S.-backed air campaign, but with this caveat:

  • BRIG. GEN. AHMED ASSERI, Saudi-led Coalition Spokesman (through interpreter):

    The coalition will continue in preventing the Houthi militias from moving or undertaking any operations inside Yemen.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And, indeed, within hours, the coalition struck targets in Taiz, after the Houthis captured an army base there. At least a dozen other airstrikes hit areas across Southern Yemen.

    This afternoon, in Washington, the Saudi ambassador to the United States defended the renewed bombing.

  • ADEL AL-JUBEIR, Ambassador, Saudi Arabia:

    When the Houthis or their allies make aggressive moves, there will be a response. The decision to calm matters now rests entirely with them.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Back in Sanaa, Yemen's capital, thousands of Houthi supporters turned out to declare their defiance.

  • MAN:

    I would like to inform all the alliance that all the Yemeni people will not be affected by any of their rockets or attacks ever. We will keep fighting.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The Houthis did release Yemen's defense minister, who joined exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in Saudi Arabia. Rebel leaders also called for peace talks. And the State Department said the Obama administration has told the Saudis it supports negotiations as well.

  • MARIE HARF, State Department Spokeswoman:

    The Saudis make their own decisions certainly in conjunction with their coalition partners, but we have been having a conversations. The Saudis understand that the path forward here needs to be dialogue.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Meanwhile, in Shiite Iran, the parliament speaker challenged the Saudis to defend killing hundreds of people in Yemen.

  • ALI LARIJANI, Ambassador, Saudi Arabia (through interpreter):

    What has happened in Yemen over the last 27 days? The Saudi government should be asked, what have you achieved, after all this fuss, when you said in your statement that you have achieved your goals?

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Iran supports the Houthi rebels, but has denied supplying them with weapons.

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