NEW DELHI: At least 40 people have been killed in a Saudi-led attack on a camp in Hajja province, whilst Houthi rebels advanced into the northern outskirts of the Yemeni port city of Aden on Monday. India, meanwhile, has asked Saudi Arabia for "support and cooperation in the evacuation of Indian citizens from Yemen.”

Conflicting reports have emerged regarding the attack in Hajja province, with several sources saying that Saudi-led air strikes struck Al-Mazraq camp, believed to house internally displaced people and located close to the Saudi border. Yemen’s foreign minister, Riyadh Yasin, however, insisted it was caused by rebel Houthi artillery fire.

Pablo Marco, the manager of the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) programme in the Middle East told Al Jazeera: "It was an air strike," adding that dozens of Yemenis were injured. "People in Al-Mazraq camp have been living in very harsh conditions since 2009, and now they have suffered the consequences of an airstrike."

To add to the confusion, witnesses told AP news that while the camp used to house internally displaced people that were affected by a conflict that ended five years ago, it was now occupied by Houthi forces, with the airstrike targeting fighters.

The fighting in Yemen has acquired a new context with a Saudi-led coalition beginning its military action against the Shiite Houthis -- who have deposed the Yemeni government and made a series of advances, most recently into Aden where Yemen’s current US and Saudi supported President, Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, had fled to and is currently based. Last week, however, Hadi slipped out of Yemen and arrived at Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt under the pretence of attending the Arab League Summit.

While the world watches in preparation for a possible Saudi-led ground invasion, Saudi Arabia has set up a blockade, cutting off Houthi supply lines whilst its air force takes control of Yemeni air space.

To provide further context, as Saudi Arabia steps up its offensive against the Houthis, the rebels, in turn, are allied with the region’s other political power -- Iran. As fighting continues, Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of aiding the rebels with weapons and resources. Hadi, meanwhile, has denounced the rebels as Iran’s “puppet.” "I say to the puppet of Iran, and those who are with him, you destroyed Yemen with your immature politics, and creating internal and regional crisis," he said on Saturday.

Yemen, hence, is the battleground for the region -- split along sectarian lines. Backing Saudi Arabia in its latest offensive, called “Operation Decisive Storm” is the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, Morocco, Egypt and Sudan.

(Source: CNN)

In addition to becoming the regional battlefield, the conflict in Yemen is also symbolic of the United State’s confused policy regarding West Asia. In Yemen, the US is supporting Sunni rebels, whereas in Iraq and Syria, it is fighting Sunni rebels.

In fact, fighting the Shia Houthis is Yemen will serve to bolster the Sunni fighters active in the country -- namely, the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Further, it will also help the new kid on the block in Yemen -- the Islamic State, who the US-led coalition is battling in Iraq and Syria, with US aircraft, for the first time, pounding Islamic State positions in Tikrit on Thursday.

The setting in Yemen is now perfect for the Islamic State. Conflict organized along sectarian Shia-Sunni divisions, a powerful Saudi-led US-backed coalition bombing the key Shia rebel militia, the Houthis, thereby paving the way for Sunni militias like the AQAP and the Islamic State.

Earlier in March, the Islamic State carried out its first major attack within Yemen. Suicide bombers attacked two mosques linked to the Shiite Houthis, killing 137 and injuring 350 people. A group claiming to be a Yemeni branch of the Islamic State said it was responsible for the bombings.

As the situation in Yemen worsens, India has stepped up efforts for the evacuation of its nationals from the war-torn country. More than half of the 4000 Indians in the country are nurses. As part of rescue efforts, eighty Indians were flown out on Sunday to Djibouti. Two Air India aircraft were on standby in Muscat, Oman, but -- according to Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin -- were not given permission to fly to Sanaa.

Indians who have thus far been evacuated have spoken to the press and provided some insight into the situation in Yemen. "They cannot go out of their residences. Many are running out of water and food. There is no way they can go out and procure the essentials," said Lijo George, an IT worker who returned to Kerala on Monday from Sanaa, as quoted by Reuters.

Others have chosen to stay back in the country. Speaking to Reuters from the Military Hospital in Sanaa, paramedic Ranjith Cheerakathil said he and his wife, a nurse, were among the few who had decided to stay. Most of the hospital's 240 Indian staff were waiting for a flight to leave. "Most of the operations in the hospital will be shut down when they leave. There will not be anybody to care for those who suffer injuries in the attack," Cheerakathil said. "This is cruel. My conscience does not allow me to leave them like that."