Watch CBS News

​Saudi-led bombing of Yemen breeding hatred of U.S.

CBS News correspondent Clarissa Ward was among the first set of journalists to enter Yemen -- a country in the midst of a civil war
Rare look inside battle-torn Yemen 03:28

SAANA, Yemen - Upon landing at Sana'a airport, a charred airplane is the first thing you see. The area had been one of the first targets in a three-month-old bombing campaign led by Saudi Arabia.

Up until now, the Saudis had blocked access to foreign journalists trying to cover this civil war. It didn't take long for us to see why.

The sound of everyday life in Sana'a includes outgoing anti-aircraft and jets overhead, supposedly bombing in mountains visible in the distance.

Most of the airstrikes have targeted military installations now under the control of Houthi rebel forces, who swept into power last fall and ousted the president. The Houthis are viewed by the Saudi-led coalition as a proxy for their arch rival -- Iran.

A bombed airplane in the runway at the airport in Sana'a, Yemen CBS News

But at least than 1,300 civilians have been killed and some of the country's most precious heritage destroyed.

In Sana'a's old city, which dates back more than 2,500 years, Abdullah Kakalla showed us his family home, flattened by an air strike days ago. Pointing at the damage he asked, "Is this a military site?"

"They destroy our people for not any reason," said Kakalla. "We are not belong to Iran or to anybody. We don't like war, we don't like to destroy anybody."

The Houthis deny that they are backed by Iran, but at a rally for supporters in the city center Sunday, it was clear where the group's sympathies lie. They chanted the Houthi slogan over and over, inspired by the Iranian revolution: "Death to America, death to Israel."

People here blame the U.S. for supplying the bombs that Saudi Arabia is dropping. Mohammed Ali al Houthi, one of Yemen's new leaders, explained the feelings towards America in a rare interview.

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, one of Yemen's rising leaders CBS News

"The animosity against the U.S. is because it's playing an adversarial role against the people of the region," he said. "America is for sure fighting us."

As for al Qaeda, the terror organization is actively exploiting the chaos and sectarianism that this war has given rise to. The group has more money and more fighters in Yemen than ever before.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.