Houthi-controlled areas are being bombarded by a Saudi-led coalition and there are also ground battles including not just Saudi troops but also UAE forces and even soldiers on contract from Ethiopia. The plane was reported ready to fly back to Russia on Friday with 75 people on board anxious to flee the city that is constantly bombed. This is the first Russian flight to the capital since last July. As well as aid the plane was said to carry diplomatic staff.
Yemen Press news claimed ex-president Al Saleh had tried to board the Russian plane but the Saudi-led coalition that has control of flights in and out of Yemen would not allow the plane to take off. The article claims the plane had apparently received permission from the coalition air force to land. At least once the coalition bombed the runway at Sanaa airport to prevent an unauthorized plane from landing, creating a problem for all aid planes. Saleh supports the Houthi rebels and his connections in the Yemeni armed forces helped the Houthis advance throughout Yemen, especially in areas where Sunnis are predominant. The Houthis are a Shia sect supported by Iran. The Saudis ordered the Russian plane to fly to Bisha airport in Saudi Arabia for inspection. The pilots refused to do so. The Saudis took this as clear evidence that Saleh was aboard the plane. The Saudis also claimed Saleh had visited the Russian embassy in Sanaa on Tuesday. Saleh admits this but said he went to express his condolences for those killed in the crash of a Russian plane over the Sinai.
Another article suggests the Saudis prevented the plane from leaving because it had not gone through the coalition inspection process in Djibouti. The Al-Masirah TV quote a Russian diplomat as claiming there was no justification for not allowing the plane to depart. The Saudi-led coalition has imposed a ban on all travel by sea or air to Yemen since March in accordance with Security Council resolution 2216.
Russia is working on a plan together with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, that would allow it to provide humanitarian aid in Syria, Yemen and Iraq. Russian Emergencies Minister, Vladimir Puchkov, said: “Next year we will make a plan for the provision of humanitarian aid in different countries including Syria, Yemen and Iraq. This also applies to assist in the event of natural disasters.”