CAIRO (Reuters) - Saudi-led air strikes hit three military bases in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Saturday and the Yemeni government in exile expressed reservations about United Nations-led talks aimed at ending the eight-week war.
Residents said the air raids hit a munitions store in one of the bases, setting off a large explosion which sent rockets flying into the air and crashing down on civilian areas.
There was no immediate word on casualties.
An Arab alliance has been bombing Yemen’s dominant group, the Iran-allied Houthi militia, and have backed Yemeni fighters opposing the group in battlefields throughout Yemen’s south.
Yemen’s exiled government in Saudi Arabia headed by President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi expressed reluctance to attend U.N.-sponsored peace talks set for May 28 in Geneva.
A spokesman said on Saturday the Houthis and their powerful ally, ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, should first commit to a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding they withdraw from Yemen’s main cities.
“The discussion to hold the Geneva conference perhaps needs more time and arrangements. The other side, the Houthi militias and Saleh, have not recognized President Hadi’s legitimacy ... until now they have given no explicit, clear reaction to resolution 2216,” Rajeh Badi told Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV.
A delegation of Houthi officials has arrived in neighboring Oman to discuss the conflict with the government, which has previously relayed messages between the Shi‘ite Muslim group and Saudi Arabia.
“I hope there is consensus to stop the aggression on Yemen, especially ahead of the Geneva conference, and then a serious Yemeni-Yemeni dialogue which allows Yemenis to build their state and gain security and stability,” Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul-Salam told Arab TV station Al Mayadeen.
The group has demanded a ceasefire before they attend the peace talks and have dismissed demands to withdraw from Yemeni cities and the capital, which they seized in September.
Reporting By Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Noah Browning; Editing by Janet Lawrence