Saudi Arabia announced on Wednesday it had launched military operations in Yemen, carrying out air strikes in coordination with a 10-country coalition seeking to beat back Houthi militia forces besieging the southern city of Aden where the country's president had taken refuge.
At a news conference in Washington, Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir said Gulf Arab allies and others had joined with the desert kingdom in the military campaign in a bid "to protect and defend the legitimate government" of Yemen President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. He declined to give any information on Hadi's whereabouts.
With the Saudi-led military assault, the Middle East's top oil power has been drawn into the worsening Yemeni conflict.
The crisis risks spiraling into a proxy war with Shi'ite Iran backing the Houthis, whose leaders adhere to the brand of Shi'ite Islam, and Saudi Arabia and the other regional Sunni Muslim monarchies backing Hadi.
"We will do whatever it takes in order to protect the legitimate government of Yemen from falling," Jubeir said.
But he declined to give any information on the whereabouts of Hadi, though he said the military action was being taken at the embattled U.S.-backed leader's direct request. The United States said earlier that Hadi, holed up in Aden since fleeing the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa last month, was no longer at the compound he has been using as a base.