Many people dead as Saudi-led coalition carries out several airstrikes on Sanaa, Yemen

Saudi Air Force
File AFP

UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen carried out several air strikes on Thursday in the capital Sanaa under the control of the al-Houthi group, after the Houthis allied to Iran claimed responsibility for attacks on aircraft on two Saudi oil facilities.

Residents told Reuters the strikes targeted nine military positions in the city and its environs. Relief agencies reported a number of casualties.

A Reuters journalist said the debris was scattered on a manned street lined with mud brick houses. A crowd of men lifted the body of a woman wrapped in a white shroud and took him to an ambulance.

The Al-Masirah channel, run by the Houthis, quoted the Health Ministry of the Houthi group that six civilians, including four children were killed and wounded 60 others, including Russians working in the health sector.

MSF said two hospitals supported in Sanaa received 48 wounded and four people killed by the strikes.

The United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Yemen said preliminary reports indicated five children were among the dead.

The coalition said in a statement carried by Al-Arabiya television channel that it had carried out air operations on bases, military installations and weapons stores in order to “neutralize the capabilities of the (Huthi) coupers to carry out hostilities.”

“These flights have achieved their objectives accurately.” The coalition urged civilians not to approach targeted sites.

In a statement issued later, Coalition Forces spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki said that the Joint Forces Command of the coalition “transferred one of the results of targeting operations in the area of ​​operations to the joint team to assess the incidents to consider the possibility of accidental accident.”

One resident spoke of a raid near a densely populated area and said ambulances rushed to the area where the flames could be seen and smoke was drawn from them.

“There was an air raid near us in the middle of a densely populated area between huge streets and ditches,” Abdul Razzaq Mohammed told Reuters. “The blast was so strong that the stones were flying. This is the first time our house has shaken this way. ”

Sanaa has been under the control of the Houthi movement since it ousted the internationally recognized government of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi from power there in late 2014. The coalition has previously targeted sites suspected of being used to store aircraft and rockets in the city.

– Iranian “tool” –

Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman, accused Iran on Thursday of ordering attacks on two oil pumping stations in the kingdom on Tuesday.

“What Houthi is doing is a terrorist act under higher orders from Tehran, and they are putting the gall on the current political efforts,” Prince Khalid said on Twitter.

The Houthis claimed responsibility for the attack, which did not cause a halt in production or exports. The group denies it is a tool in Tehran’s hands and says it is waging a revolution against corruption.

Mohammad Ali al-Houthi, head of the Supreme Revolutionary Committee, said Iran had not ordered the strike and that the group was making its “domestic” aircraft. Tehran also denies supplying the group with weapons.

“The movement is not an agent of any one and makes its decisions independently and does not receive orders on the aircraft or anything else,” he told Reuters.

The coalition said the attack by the planes was “tantamount to war crimes.”

On Wednesday, the UAE, a key member of the Western-backed coalition, said the alliance would “strongly respond” to any Houthi attack on its targets.

Sanaa’s air strikes and renewed fighting in the port of Hodeidah, a violation of a UN-brokered truce in the Red Sea city, would complicate peace efforts to end the four-year war that has killed tens of thousands, including many civilians, and pushed the country to the brink of famine.

The alliance, which receives weapons and intelligence from Western countries, is entering Yemen in 2015 to try to bring the Aden-led government to power.

The warring parties agreed in December to peace talks under the auspices of the United Nations on a cease-fire agreement and the withdrawal of troops from Hodeidah, a lifeline for millions of Yemenis and became the focus of the war last year.

The implementation of the Agreement, which was the first major breakthrough in more than four years, has stalled amid deep suspicion among all parties. But Special Envoy Martin Griffith made some progress when the Houthis began withdrawing from three ports on Saturday.

The coalition forces are also expected to withdraw under the agreement once the two sides develop a broader second phase of redeployment in Hodeidah, the main entry point for commercial imports to Yemen and the main supply line for the Houthis.

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