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Yemen air force falls into grip of Houthis

The Houthi takeover of the Yemeni air force led to the Saudi military intervention in Yemen, while al-Qaeda is using the absence of local forces to advance in strategic regions in the country.
Yemeni Air Force MiG-21 fighters and a Mil Mi-17 helicopter are seen at an air base near Sanaa Airport March 28, 2015. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah - RTR4V9D4

Two military aircraft took off on March 25 from Sanaa’s al-Daylami air base, which is under Houthi control, to launch an attack on the Yemeni president’s residence in the al-Maasheeq district of Aden. Hours after the operation, the Saudi-led military intervention began with multiple attacks that announced the start of Operation Decisive Storm. Though the operation officially came to an end 25 days later, airstrikes are continuing.

The Yemeni air force, established in 1934, is the oldest military unit in Yemen. This is the first time, however, that the air force has been involved in a direct political conflict, and it is also the first time a party other than the Yemeni state has called on it. Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his opponents relied on different forces in conflict situations in the past.

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