Airstrikes, apparently conducted by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, have killed up to 14 civilians, including six children, witnesses on the ground report.
The attack targeted the Faj Attan area on the southern outskirts of Sanaa and also reduced two buildings to rubble, Reuters cites local sources as saying. The bodies of several children, who appear to be as young as 10, have been recovered by rescuers, the agency said.
The news comes two days after a Saudi bombing killed dozens of people, most of them civilians, in a Sanaa hotel reportedly located next to a rebel checkpoint.
The Wednesday attack was condemned by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which said the Saudi-led coalition was responsible for protecting civilians in Yemen.
“We remind all parties to the conflict, including the Coalition, of their duty to ensure full respect for international humanitarian law,” spokeswoman Liz Throssell said. “It is not clear at this point what investigations there have been and what they have led to.”
The UN reportedly plans to blacklist Saudi Arabia as a nation involved in violation of children’s rights for the high death toll its campaign takes on the minors in Yemen.
A UN report leaked to the media last week said half of children casualties in the country were caused by the coalition airstrikes.
The UN tried to brand Riyadh as a violator of children’s rights last year, but infamously backed off after the Saudis threatened to cut funding of UN’s aid programs.
However, the leak of the report indicates that the scale of atrocities being committed in Yemen is too high to turn a blind eye, even with Saudi Arabia lobbing for it, believes Catherine Shakdam, writer and Middle East commentator.
“Saudi Arabia’s abuses in Yemen are not a figment of anyone’s imagination; they are a fact – a reality that if not addressed will allow for the genocide of a people. Yemen’s war proper has long gone beyond the political or the geopolitical,” she told RT.
Saudi Arabia and its allies have been waging a war against Shiite rebels in Yemen, in an attempt to put the ousted Yemeni president back in power. The campaign and Saudi-imposed blockade of the impoverished nation have contributed to a humanitarian crisis in Yemen, including a major outbreak of cholera and continued malnutrition of the population, rights organizations say.
Major Western powers, inducing the US and Britain, have been contributing to the Saudi war effort by selling Riyadh weapons and providing the coalition air missions with refueling and targeting intelligence.
The death toll from an alleged Saudi air strike on a wedding party in Yemen on 28 September has reached 131 according to medics, in one of the deadliest attacks on civilians in the country. Saudi Arabia has denied launching the aerial bombardment that caused the wedding party carnage, which took place in Al-Wahijah, a village near the Red Sea port of Al-Mokha.
A coalition spokesman suggested that local militias may have been responsible for the raid. Brigadier-General Ahmed Al Asseri told Reuters: “There have been no air operations by the coalition in that area for three days. This is totally false news.”
The strike hit two tents during a wedding for a local man linked to the Houthis. On 28 September a security source put the death toll at 38, with at least 40 people injured. A medical source at a local hospital in Maqbana, where the casualties were taken, told Reuters on 29 September that the death toll from the attack had risen to 131.
According to Yemeni experts on Twitter, the strike killed dozens of women and injured many more children. Other reports from the village said 12 women, eight children and seven men had been killed, with dozens more wounded, according to AP.
Yemen security officials said two Saudi missiles targeted the celebration “by mistake”. The US-backed, Saudi-led coalition has been carrying out air strikes against the Shi’ite Houthi rebels since March in a conflict that has killed at least 2,100 civilians, according to the UN.
UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, during his speech at the UN General Assembly in New York, urged Saudi Arabia to stop its air strikes. “I call for an end to the bombings. Let me be clear: there is no military solution to the conflict”. In a meeting with Saudi Arabian foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir, he called for increased humanitarian access.
In an age of 24/7 news coverage, social media and videos going viral, the war in Yemen must rank as one of the most under-reported in recent times, despite a few brave visits by intrepid journalists and film crews.
Yemen can be a remote, difficult and dangerous country to cover, and that is in peace time.
Now, six months after Saudi-led air strikes against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels began on 26 March, the war in Yemen has taken a terrible toll on the Arab world’s poorest nation, with both sides accused of committing war crimes and most of the casualties being caused by the aerial bombing.
Six months into this war the situation is not quite a stalemate but both sides do appear increasingly entrenched.
The Houthi rebels, allied with forces loyal to the previous President Ali Abdullah Saleh, still occupy the capital, Sanaa, and much of the more heavily populated north and west of the country.
Fighting them are Yemeni forces loyal to the UN-recognised President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, who has just returned to the second city, Aden, after six months in exile in Saudi Arabia.
These forces are supported by a coalition of 5,000-7,500 Gulf Arab troops led by a Saudi Special Forces commander. They have total air supremacy, having destroyed the Houthi-controlled air force on the ground.
There have been several unsuccessful attempts to broker a peace deal in neighbouring Oman. These have failed over demands that the Houthis withdraw to their northern stronghold and the Houthi demand for more power-sharing and to integrate their forces into a future national army.
Saudi officials have told the BBC that if no deal can be reached soon then Gulf and Yemeni forces will surround Sanaa and overrun it. If the Houthis then chose to stay and fight the death toll amongst civilians would be catastrophic.
The statistics are sobering. The UN says that more than 4,800 people have been killed, including more than 450 children, and more than 24,000 people injured.
The majority of casualties have been caused by air strikes, with the Saudi-led coalition being accused by Human Rights Watch (HRW) of using cluster munitions and “indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas”. HRW has also accused the Houthis of bombarding residential areas of Aden with mortar and artillery fire as well as laying mines indiscriminately.
Casualties: 4,855 people killed, including 2,112 civilians; 24,971 injured
Internally displaced: 1.4 million
Food-aid dependant: 3,518,000
Sources: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs; World Food Program – 14 September
About 1.4 million people have been displaced from their homes and more than 3.5 million now depend on food aid, yet there is still a partial blockade on the country’s ports, imposed by the coalition to prevent any resupply of arms reaching the Houthis.
Many of the Houthi-Saleh arms dumps and military positions have been sited in residential areas, which have resulted in appalling casualties following coalition air strikes.
Unlike Syrians, Yemenis cannot easily flee across their land border as Saudi Arabia has partially completed a 930-mile (1,500km) border fence and reaching distant Oman entails travelling through territory controlled by al-Qaeda.
It is a sign of just how bad things have got in Yemen that many have fled by boat across the Bab al-Mandeb Strait to Somaliland and Djibouti. Some have since returned to Aden, a once thriving Indian Ocean port, now in ruins.
How did it start?
The Saudi-led Operation Firm Resolve began when Saudi warplanes struck Houthi rebel positions deep inside Yemen, taking most of the region by surprise.
Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies maintain that the conflict really began six months earlier, in September 2014.
The Houthis swept southwards from their mountain heartland and seized control of Sanaa, with the help of the ousted President Saleh, who still commands the loyalty of much of Yemen’s military and security forces.
By January 2015 the Houthis had placed the UN-recognised President Hadi under house arrest and by February he had fled to Aden, where Houthi forces very nearly captured him before he was rescued by Saudi Special Forces and smuggled out of the country.
The Houthis say they rebelled because of widespread corruption in government and because Yemen’s federal system did not take their interests sufficiently into account.
The Saudis and their Yemeni allies contend that Iran has been arming, training and even directing the Houthi rebels, who are Shia Muslims.
But there has been little evidence of direct Iranian military involvement on the ground. The Houthi advance was enabled largely by renegade forces loyal to the previous president.
Saudi Arabia fears encirclement by Iranian proxies: in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and now Yemen.
So, a decision was taken in March by Saudi King Salman and his favourite son, the Defence Minister, Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, to draw a line in the sand and launch this war to show Iran it would not tolerate what they saw as a takeover of their neighbour by an Iranian proxy.
The Saudis hoped their massive, precision-guided air power would quickly force the Houthis to sue for peace.
When I interviewed their chief military spokesman in Riyadh during the first week of Operation Firm Resolve, Brig Gen Ahmed al-Asiri presented an upbeat, confidant assessment of the way the war was progressing.
But the Houthi rebels have proved more resilient than the Saudis expected, forcing them and their Sunni Arab Gulf allies to commit thousands of ground troops – and take casualties themselves.
Who is fighting who?
Broadly speaking, there are two sides in this war.
On the one side there are the Houthi rebels, who were initially able to overrun most of western Yemen with the help of Republican Guard brigades loyal to Mr Saleh.
The ex-president’s role has been crucial.
Driven from power by the Arab Spring protests in 2012, he never left Yemen and appears determined to stop anyone else ruling the country in his place.
His alliance with the Houthis is considered highly opportunistic given that when he was president he fought several wars with them, calling on help from the Saudi air force – which is now bombing both his forces and the Houthis.
Ranged against the rebels is the Saudi-led coalition. Next to the Saudis, the most important contributors are the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which landed an entire armoured brigade in Aden, complete with French-built Leclerc tanks.
Qatar has committed at least 1,000 troops, and there is also a contingent from Bahrain. Morocco, Sudan, Egypt and Jordan are also contributing but Oman has remained strictly neutral, allowing its capital Muscat to be a convenient venue for peace talks.
Pakistan effectively snubbed a Saudi request to send ground troops after its parliament turned it down.
What about al-Qaeda?
The jihadists have benefitted enormously from the recent chaos in Yemen. Both al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and so-called Islamic State (IS) have moved into parts of southern Yemen abandoned by government troops.
AQAP now controls the eastern city of Mukalla, while IS fighters have been seen in and around Aden. Both these organisations have sent suicide bombers into Sanaa, with IS latterly targeting Shia mosques frequented by the Houthis.
The controversial CIA-run drone programme that was targeting AQAP leaders in southern Yemen is still active but is likely to have lost many of its human informants on the ground.
How will it end?
Yemen’s war can only end one way – with a political settlement.
The Saudis certainly have both the budget and the firepower to keep prosecuting their campaign until they force the Houthis to sue for peace.
But the price will be paid by ordinary Yemenis and there are already signs of growing international disapproval of the death toll incurred on civilians by the air strikes.
The Houthis, while showing remarkable resilience, have also been unrealistic in their demands. They do not represent a majority of Yemenis and the harsh reality is that impoverished Yemen depends on its big, rich neighbour Saudi Arabia to survive economically.
The Saudis are never going to bankroll a regime (the Houthis) they see as an Iranian proxy so it can only be hoped for Yemen’s sake that some compromise is reached as soon as possible.
At least three killed in car bombing on Mosque
An armed member of the Houthi militia walks through the scene of a car bomb attack targeting a mosque in Sana, Yemen, on July 29. (Yahya Arhab / European Pressphoto Agency)
By ZAID AL-ALAYAA Middle East Yemen American Red Cross
In the last four months of devastating war in my country, and in my years as a journalist before this conflict began, I have seen and written about many terrible things. But nothing prepared me for this.
On July 24, my uncle, my aunt and their five children – the oldest of them 16 and the youngest 5 – died in a barrage of airstrikes in the port city of Makha, in Taiz province, a bombardment that killed some 80 people in all. My aunt was six months pregnant with what would have been their sixth child.
At least three killed in car bombing on Mosque
Yemenis stand in the entrance to a mosque targedted by a car bomb in Sana, Yemen, on July 29. (Yahya Arhab / European Pressphoto Agency)
All over Yemen there are people like me, who have suffered the loss of a loved one – or of a whole family dear to them. The air war that began on March 26, when a Saudi-led military coalition commenced its offensive against Shiite Muslim Houthi rebels and their allies, has killed more than 3,000 people, by the estimates of international groups. Many believe the real figure is much higher.
So we are a nation of bereaved, trying to make sense of our overpowering grief.
Quite often, I interview people who tell me about the losses they have suffered. It has sometimes surprised me that people are so willing – eager, even – to talk about their dead relatives. Now I understand their need to speak about these things.
I want to tell everyone about my uncle, Sadiq Qadasi, who was also my great friend. He was 49 years old. His wife, Intithar Qaid, was 37. Their children were Mohammed, Ahmed, Abdullah, Asma’a and Nusaibah.
My other uncle, Mohammed, begged the doctors for a different outcome, even when he knew they all were dead. He asked them: Can you at least save the unborn baby?
“May God bless my brother,” he told me on the phone, in tears. “Now he has died with nobody to carry his name.”
I could not go to the funeral. I knew what the bodies would look like. For months, our media have been full of scenes of carnage – bloodshed and scattered, mutilated body parts. How ugly is war! I hope that when it ends, our humanity does not end with it.
I am used to writing about events and describing them as best I can. But when it comes to this, the words are slipping from my brain. I cannot express what is in my heart.
I have sometimes told people who lost someone close to them to be strong, to accept what fate has dealt them. But I find I cannot do this.
– Zaid Al-Alayaa
Families here in Yemen are large but very close-knit. Everyone in mine was shattered by this news, especially my mother, facing the death of her brother. My particular role to play in this tragedy was that I was the first in my family to know of their deaths.
When I learned of the air raids that struck the area where they lived, I tried to call my uncle, but his phone was off. Later, I called my sources at the Red Cross, after a rescue team had arrived. I gave them my uncle’s name, and in an hour they told me that he and his family were among the dead.
I did not know what to do or whom to tell. I waited in tears until my other uncle reached the area. He undertook the task of informing everyone else in the family.
@Hiram A Hey Hiram why don’t you appeal to Jeb Bush to ask his best buddies the Saudi Royal family to stop killing people in Yemen. They owe us one for the pass we gave them after the WTC attack on 9/11.
AT 7:56 AM AUGUST 03, 2015
ADD A COMMENTSEE ALL COMMENTS
Every day my Uncle Sadiq either called me or sent me text messages telling me to take care of myself, because he knew my work takes me into harm’s way. “Stay away from clashes, from military sites,” he said. “There is nothing worth dying for, but so many things that are worth living for.”
He also said often: “Take care of your family.”
I have sometimes told people who lost someone close to them to be strong, to accept what fate has dealt them. But I find I cannot do this. When I received this news, I wept for hours. My strength and courage evaporated. I understood what it means to lose those who were beloved in the blink of an eye.
Saudi-led airstrikes kill at least 60 in Yemen just before truce
Saudi-led airstrikes kill at least 60 in Yemen just before truce
On my phone, I have text messages from my dead uncle that I read every day. I listen to the cassettes of songs that he gave me. I remember the foods he liked, the way he dressed, his cologne. I hear the echoes of his laughter.
I think of his wife, my Aunt Intithar, and their youngest son, Ahmed, who was just 5. I had not seen my uncle and his family recently because of the chaos caused by the war, but he had told me on the phone that Ahmed not only looked like me but acted like me too. Remembering this made me cry the hardest.
At home in Sana, I received callers who came to give their condolences. There is so much of that now, this paying of respect. So many people have dead to remember and honor.
Well-wishers told me: “Life goes on. You will overcome your pain.” I am not convinced. Sadiq was not just my uncle; he was like a father to me. Everyone in his village wept for his loss.
I think of his soul, of the soul of my aunt, of the souls of my five cousins, and the souls of so many others dead in this war.
Al-Alayaa is a special correspondent. Cairo bureau chief Laura King contributed to this report.
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SANAA, June 20 (Xinhua) — A mosque controlled by the Shiite Houthi group in Yemen’s capital Sanaa was hit by a car bomb on Saturday, killing at least three people, a security official told Xinhua.
“At least three people were confirmed killed and seven others wounded in the car bombing attack that targeted al-Kubbah al-Khadra mosque,” Colonel Naji al-Joufi told Xinhua.
Witnesses said the mosque that includes a school and a recruiting office in central Sanaa is controlled by the Houthis. The blast took place near the eastern gate of the mosque, causing damages to nearby houses.
It is the second attack in one week. On Wednesday, the Islamic State (IS) militant group claimed four car bombing attacks against three mosques and a Houthi office in Sanaa which left 18 people killed and dozens wounded.
Security in Yemen deteriorated since 2011 when mass protests forced former President Ali Abdullash Saleh to step down. The three-year reconciliation talks failed to resolve the crisis but created huge power vacuum for the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and IS to expand their influence in the country.
The Shiite Houthi group seized the capital Sanaa by force in last September and forced President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia in late March.
The AQAP and IS intensified attacks against the Shiite Houthi group since the Houthis started to advance into the southern regions where the terrorist groups are active.
On March 20, IS suicide bombers attacked two mosques in Sanaa and Houthi headquarters in the northern Saada province, killing at least 137 people, the most deadliest attacks in Yemen for decades.
An anti-Houthi fighter from the Southern Popular Resistance takes up position at a front line against Houthi fighters in the Bir Ahmad outskirts of Yemen’s southern port city of Aden June 9, 2015.
At least 43 people were killed in heavy fighting in Yemen overnight and on Wednesday between supporters of exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the country’s dominant Houthi group, residents, tribal and medical sources said.
The clashes erupted ahead of U.N.-sponsored talks in Geneva next week aimed at ending a conflict that has drawn in Saudi Arabia and some of its allies on one side and the Iranian-backed Houthis and former president Ali Abdullah Saleh on the other.
Residents and fighters said fighters opposed to the Houthis advanced from a district of Aden known as ‘workers’ island’ toward the port city’s Houthi-held international airport. They said five local fighters and 11 Houthis had died in clashes.
Eight fighters from an anti-Houthi force called the Southern Resistance were also wounded in the clashes, they said.
Residents said warplanes from a Saudi-led coalition flew sorties overnight against Houthi outposts in the Bir Ahmed area north of Aden, killing 12 members of the Zaydi Shi’ite Muslim group.
Saudi-led air strikes on Houthi fighters in the oil-producing Marib province also killed 10 Houthis, tribal sources told Reuters. Separately, in the central city of Taiz, medical sources said five civilians had been killed when they were caught in the middle of fighting between the Houthis and local resistance fighters aligned with Hadi.
Representatives of Hadi’s government are scheduled to begin talks in Geneva with representatives of the Houthi group and Saleh’s General People’s Congress party on Sunday, amid reports of disagreements about the agenda.
Mohammed Abdel-Salam, spokesman for the Houthi group, said late on Tuesday that their representation at the conference was still under discussion and had yet to be finalised.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by the fighting in Yemen, which escalated sharply after Saudi-led Arab forces waded into the conflict in March to try to shore up Hadi and stop the Houthis advancing on areas held by his supporters.
Iran and the Houthis deny having any military or economic links. The Houthis say their seizure of the capital Sanaa in September and their advance south is part of a “revolution” against a corrupt government.
Humanitarian conditions have deteriorated sharply, with shortages of fresh produce, poultry, flour, fuel and other basic needs. Residents also complain that uncollected garbage, rotting under sizzling temperatures of nearly 50 degrees Celsius in Aden, has caused the spread of disease such as dengue fever.
Some report dozens of deaths among the Houthis, who come from a highland region of Yemen and are unaccustomed to high temperatures, but the reports could not be immediately be verified by medical experts.
(Reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf, writing by Sami Aboudi, Editing by William Maclean and Gareth Jones)
A Yemeni walks in front of emergency aid supplied by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees after it was unloaded at Sana’a International Airport, in Sana’a, Yemen, on May 16, 2015. — PHOTO: EPA
SANAA (AFP) – Fierce clashes between rebels and pro-government forces killed dozens across south Yemen on Saturday, threatening to derail a humanitarian ceasefire drawn up to bring vital aid to the war-wracked country.
The five-day truce initiated by a Saudi-led coalition that has bombarded the Iran-backed rebels for more than six weeks expires late Sunday, and Riyadh has already warned it was “ready to act” against any ceasefire violations.
In the latest violence, at least 12 civilians were killed and 51 wounded when the Shi’ite Huthi rebels shelled several neighbourhoods in Yemen’s third city Taez, military and local sources said.
The clashes came after overnight fighting killed 26 rebels and militiamen loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh as well as 14 pro-government forces, military sources said.
The United Nations has expressed deep concern about the civilian death toll from the Saudi-led bombing as well as the humanitarian impact of an air and sea blockade imposed by the coalition.
It says more than 1,500 people have died in the conflict since late March.
Some aid has trickled into Yemen since the pause in fighting, but residents of areas where clashes persist complain they remain without the most basic supplies.
The fighting in Taez overnight forced many to flee to the countryside.
“Humanitarian aid hasn’t reached Taez, where we haven’t received fuel, food or medical equipment,” said a government official in the city.
However, UN refugee agency the UNHCR sent two planes loaded with aid to Sanaa on Saturday, airport sources said, while Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) medical crews also flew in to the capital.
The United Nations has called for the Saudi-led coalition to simplify import inspections after warning that supplies were still blocked.
UN coordinator Johannes van der Klaauw warned that the inspections, introduced under an arms embargo slapped on the Huthi rebels last month, were hampering aid deliveries.
CLASHES DESPITE TRUCE
“The arms embargo and its inspection regime results in commercial goods, be it by air or by ship, no longer reaching the country,” he said.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has accused the Huthis of repeatedly violating ceasefire terms, but the rebels have pledged to honour the truce.
“We are hoping that the Huthis will abide by the terms of the ceasefire and stop their aggressive behaviour if they want the ceasefire to hold,” he said.
But clashes rocked Aden on Saturday, an AFP correspondent said.
Heavy artillery, including tank shells, hit the city’s northern sector where rebels and troops loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi continue to fight over territory, including a main road into central Aden, military sources said.
West Aden was also hit by shelling, they added.
And in southern Daleh province, five Huthis were killed overnight when their convoy was ambushed, an official said.
The chaos in Yemen has been exploited by armed groups, including the country’s branch of Al-Qaeda, which is viewed by the United States as the world’s most dangerous.
A local official said 36 Yemen soldiers were kidnapped by suspected Al-Qaeda members overnight in the southern port of Mukalla.
The extremist group has controlled Mukalla, the capital of Yemen’s vast desert Hadramawt province, since April and has for months claimed deadly attacks against Yemen’s government-controlled armed forces.
The official said Al-Qaeda seized the soldiers late Friday after accusing them of supporting the Huthis.
In nearby Shabwa province, armed tribesmen took control of an oil-producing region after two days of clashes with rebel fighters, tribal and military sources said.
A conference on Sunday in Riyadh is set to bring rival Yemeni factions around the table in a bid to end the crisis, but the Huthis, who want talks to be held in Yemen, are boycotting the meeting.
Saudi Arabia has vowed to continue military action in Yemen until Hadi’s government is restored.