The United Nations and a rights group have slammed the latest attack carried out by a Saudi-UAE-led military coalition that killed more than 32 civilians in a mountainous northern Yemeni province on Saturday.
The U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Lise Grande, said “these terrible strikes” in al-Maslub district killed at least 31 civilians and wounded 12 others, according to preliminary field reports. “So many people are being killed in Yemen — it’s a tragedy and it’s unjustified. ... Five years into this conflict and belligerents are still failing to uphold this responsibility," she said. “It’s shocking.” She said many wounded were taken to hospitals in Jawf and Yemen's capital, Sanaa.
Houthis accused the Saudi-led coalition of launching retaliatory airstrikes after they shot down a coalition warplane over the province of Jawf. "Most of the casualties were women and children," Youssef al-Hadiri, a spokesperson for the Houthi-controlled health ministry, told German news agency dpa. He accused the Saudi-led alliance of hampering rescue operations on the scene of the purported strikes in Jauf's district of al-Maslub.
The humanitarian group, Save the Children, condemned the airstrike, saying it showed that the conflict in Yemen was “not slowing down.” “This latest attack must be urgently and independently investigated, and perpetrators held to account,” said Xavier Joubert, the charity’s country director in Yemen. He called for halting arms sales to the warring parties in Yemen’s conflict. “Those who continue to sell arms to the warring parties must realize that by supplying weapons for this war, they contribute to making atrocities like today’s all too common,” Joubert said.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the pillars of the U.S.-backed coalition, have purchased billions of dollars’ worth of weapons from Western countries, particularity from the U.S. The warplane's crash and the airstrikes came amid heavy clashes between the government forces and Houthis in the provinces of Marib, Jawf and Sanaa. Hundreds of people, mostly fighters, were killed in the recent clashes that have also forced at least 4,700 families to flee, according to the U.N.
Yemen has been devastated by a brutal civil war in which the Houthis, who have occupied the capital, Sanaa, and much of northern Yemen, are battling government troops, backed by a Saudi-led coalition. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the former Saudi defense minister and Saudi Arabia's allies launched Operation Decisive Storm in March 2015. In Yemen's civil war, the UAE is part of the Saudi-led coalition battling Iranian-backed rebels known as Houthis, who have taken over most of northern Yemen. The UAE entered Yemen's war in March 2015 alongside Saudi Arabia to back Yemen's internationally recognized government, which the Houthis had pushed out of the capital, Sanaa. The UAE has largely handled ground operations in the conflict while the Saudis have carried out airstrikes. But ties between the Yemeni government and the UAE have soured recently, as the UAE has been accused of also supporting separatists in Yemen.