by Staff Writers
Dubai (AFP) April 28, 2015
Coalition warplanes destroyed the runway at Sanaa's rebel-held airport Tuesday after an Iranian plane "defied" a blockade on Yemeni airspace, the spokesman for the Saudi-led alliance said.
Brigadier General Ahmed al-Assiri said the pilot of the Iranian plane dismissed the coalition's warnings not to fly in to Sanaa airport after entering through an unauthorised route.
"This forced air forces to destroy the runway at Sanaa airport to prevent him from landing" and forced him to turn back to Iran, he told Al-Arabiya, a Saudi-funded television network.
Planes flying to the Yemeni capital must pass through Saudi Arabia's Bisha Domestic Airport in the south which is assigned with the duty to "search any plane going to Sanaa", said Assiri.
This showed that there was "something not right" about the Iranian plane, he said, adding that "these are irresponsible actions" carried out in "defiance of blockade measures".
A Sanaa airport official told AFP that coalition warplanes had bombed Sanaa airport in the afternoon after three planes carrying aid landed at the facility on Tuesday morning.
Assiri confirmed that planes bringing aid from Doctors Without Borders, the International Migration Organisation, and other humanitarian groups had landed in Sanaa on Tuesday.
However, with the runway now destroyed, planes carrying aid would be unable to land until it is repaired by Iran-backed Shiite rebels who control the airport, as well as the capital.
The coalition, imposing an air and naval blockade on Yemen, announced the end of the first phase of their operations a week ago. However, the air strikes have not stopped.
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