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Saudi Navy Evacuates Diplomats From Yemen

Map showing members of the Saudi-led coalition against rebels in Yemen
Map showing members of the Saudi-led coalition against rebels in Yemen

Saudi Arabia's navy evacuated dozens of foreign diplomats from troubled Yemen, including Saudis, state television reported Saturday.

The diplomats were transported from Yemen's southern port city of Aden to Saudi Arabia's Red Sea port of Jeddah.

The evacuation came amid deadly fighting in Aden between supporters and opponents of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who recently fled the country.

On Friday, a Saudi military spokesman said the Saudi-led airstrikes against Shi'ite Houthi rebels in Yemen will continue as long as needed to protect the Yemeni government.

The spokesman, Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri, said defending the government is the operation's main objective. Saudi ambassador to the U.S. Adel al-Jubeir also said it is aimed at stopping a radical militia from taking over Yemen.

Also Friday, Saudi and Egyptian warships were sent to the strategically-important Bab al-Mandab strait off Yemen's coast.

Bab Al-Mandab is a critical waterway for Egypt's national security. It is the main entrance for access to the Red Sea for ships going to the Suez Canal.

Saudi-led airstrikes pounded military bases and other Shi'ite Houthi rebel targets in and around the capital, Sana'a again Friday

Military officials said airstrikes also targeted the northern province of Saada, home to the Houthi rebels. Residents in the Arabian Sea port of Shaqra tell Reuters that Houthi fighters have seized the town.

U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with Saudi King Salman by telephone Friday. The president said he backs the Gulf allied military action in Yemen, but that he and the king agree that a negotiated political settlement is their goal.

Also Friday, U.S. officials say an American military helicopter rescued two Saudi pilots who ejected from their jet over the Gulf of Aden. Saudi Arabia said Saturday a "technical fault" forced the pilots to eject.

The Saudi Press Agency said the U.S. offered to help rescue the pilots who the agency said are in "good condition."
Witnesses say they were able to walk after being rescued.

Saudi Arabia is leading a regional effort to defeat the Houthis who have taken over the capital and parts of the south, forcing President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee.

Egyptian officials say Hadi is in the resort of Sharm el-Sheik for a two-day regional summit that will likely be dominated by Yemen.

Iran, which denies accusations of funding and training the Houthis, calls the Saudi-led offensive a dangerous step that will worsen the situation in Yemen and cost lives.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif Friday called for dialogue and national reconciliation in Yemen. He said the airstrikes makes it more difficult for Yemenis to come together.

Also Friday, the Arabic television network al-Jazeera condemned an attack by Houthi rebels on its bureau in Yemen's capital, Sana'a. Guards reported the rebels destroyed security cameras, smashed the entrance door, and ransacked the office.

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