Sudan confirms joining Saudi-led Yemen operation

Yemeni civilians stand at the site of a Saudi air strike against Huthi rebels near Sanaa Airport on March 26, 2015 (AFP Photo/Mohammed Huwais) (AFP)

Khartoum (AFP) - Sudan is providing ground troops as well as warplanes for a Saudi-led military intervention against Shiite rebels in Yemen, the defence minister said on Thursday.

Saudi warplanes launched strikes on the Huthi rebels on Thursday in a bid to stop their advance on embattled President Abedrabbo Mansur Hadi's refuge in the main southern city of Aden.

Riyadh said it had assembled a coalition of more than 10 countries for the operation it dubbed "Firmness Storm".

"We are taking part with air and land forces in the 'Firmness Storm' operations and our forces have now begun mechanised movement towards the sites of the operations," Sudanese Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohammed Hussein told a press conference.

The minister gave no further details on the number of troops or aircraft involved, or what role they would play.

Military spokesman Colonel Al-Sawarmy Khaled Saad said the goal of the operation was "protecting Islamic holy sites and protecting the region".

The Huthi rebels and their allies within Yemen's armed forces had been closing in on Aden where Hadi has been holed up since fleeing the rebel-controlled capital Sanaa last month.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir visited Saudi Arabia on Wednesday and held talks with King Salman and his defence minister, Sudan's SUNA news agency reported.