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Anger, confusion in Yemen's shell-shocked capital

CBS News correspondent Clarissa Ward is among the first Western journalists to see the devastation in the capital city of Sanaa
Rare view of destruction inside Yemen's civil war 03:33

SANAA, Yemen -- As Yemen's embattled U.S.-backed government sits down for peace talks Monday in Geneva with the Houthi rebels, CBS News' Clarissa Ward has had a rare look at the destruction wrought inside the country by weeks of fighting and relentless Saudi airstrikes.

Upon landing at Sanaa's airport, the first thing Ward and her team saw was an airplane sitting on the tarmac, nearly cut in half by a missile.

Flash Points: What to expect from Yemen peace talks 04:35
Saudi-led strikes against Shiite Rebels resume 01:15

A coalition led by Saudi Arabia and backed by the Obama administration has been bombing Yemen since the Iranian-backed Houthi forces seized power in February. Ward and her team were some of the first foreign journalists to get inside the war-torn country to see where those bombs are falling.

More than 2,000 people have been killed, including at least 800 civilians.

Driving around Sanaa, Yemen's ancient capital city, the sound of fighter jets and anti-aircraft fire is constant.

Ward says the main targets of the air campaign have been military facilities, including the Ministry of Defence in Sanaa. But civilian areas have been hit too.

The Old City, in the heart of the capital, dates back more than 2,500 years. The area has now been hit by the airstrike. Resident Abdullah Kakalla showed Ward his family home, which was destroyed by a strike just days earlier.

"They destroy our people for not any reason," said Kakalla, asking sardonically, "Is this a military site?"

The goal of the airstrikes is to push out the Houthi forces who swept into power last fall and ousted U.S.-backed President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and who the Saudi-led coalition view as a proxy for their arch rival, Iran.

At a rally on Sunday, Houthi supporters shouted chants popular on the streets of Iran; "death to America, death to Israel," they cried.

But the Houthis deny that they have received weapons or funding from Iran.

One young businessman, who identified himself only as Abdullah, told Ward that most Yemenis just want the war to be over.

"This is peaceful people and we didn't fight any country before and we don't know why they are fighting us," he said.

The civil war has repercussions way beyond Yemen, says Ward. The U.S. government is very concerned the chaos is giving al Qaeda's branch in the country room to flourish.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) -- considered by many security officials to represent the most immediate, direct terror threat to the United States, now has more money and more cash than ever before.

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