29 Yemenis Dead After Suspected Saudi-led Air Strike

A Yemeni health official has confirmed at least 29 civilian deaths after a suspected airstrike on Wednesday. The strike was allegedly conducted by the Saudi-led coalition fighting Shiite rebels in Yemen.

Both local residents and the head of the health office of the Northern Saada province, Abdellah al-Ezi, have stated that the airstrike struck a small hotel in a market of the Saada province, bordering Saudi Arabia. The province is a stronghold of the Houthis, Iran-backed rebels.

While there is no footage of the actual attack, The Associated Press has obtained footage of bulldozers removing wreckage and debris from the site of the airstrike.

An eyewitness, Ahmed Mohammed, insisted there were no fighters in the hotel. “This is an act of aggression by the Americans, the Saudis, and the Zionists, and by God’s will we will take revenge one day. And even if we don’t get revenge, our children will,” he said.

The spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition has not responded to major newspapers’ requests for comments.

The airstrike on Wednesday is not an isolated incident. In fact, Al-Ezi said another airstrike killed three people Wednesday in a different part of the vast province.

The Saudi coalition, which began its campaign against the Houthis in March 2015, aims to reinstate the internationally recognized government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Since its conception, international rights groups have accused the coalition of bombing civilian gatherings, markets, hospitals and residential areas across Yemen. Saada—a Houthi stronghold—has been a repeated target of these aerial attacks.

The war in Yemen began in 2014 after Houthi fighters seized control of Sanaa and began pushing south towards the country’s third-biggest city, Aden.

The rise of the Houthis, which are believed to be backed by Iran, has caused concern. Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Sunni Arab states have since launched an intervention in 2015 in the form of a massive air campaign, aimed at reinstalling President Adb-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government.

Hadi’s forces have been battling the rebels over the past two days east of Sanaa and in areas close to the Saudi border, leaving more than 100 dead on both sides. Security officials from Hadi’s forces say their troops have advanced in several areas near Sanaa, which fell to the Houthis in September 2014, but the Houthis say they are still holding onto their positions. Hadi’s government is currently based in the southern port city of Aden.

“A peaceful political solution is required more than ever to protect civilian life and to mitigate suffering,” Mantoo said.

According to the United Nations, the number of air raids per month is now three times higher than last year. Furthermore, monthly reports of armed clashes are up 50 percent.

The stalemated war has produced grave humanitarian consequences. Cholera is on the rise and nearly 70 percent of the population is dependent on aid. The war itself has killed more than 10,000 civilians, displaced 3 million others, and has pushed the Arab world’s poorest country to the brink of famine.

Tessa Pang