09/30/2016, 09.14
YEMEN - S. ARABIA
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Saudi-led coalition air strikes cause new civilian casualties in Yemen

At least eight civilian casualties in two separate attacks in the province of Saada, controlled by the Houthi rebels. Hopes for humanitarian truce dashed. Saudi Arabia rejects peace plans that do not provide for the complete disarmament of the Shiite movement and UN rejects demand for an independent commission on human rights violations in Yemen.


 

Sana'a (AsiaNews / Agencies) – At least eight civilians were killed in two different air raids launched yesterday by the Saudi Arab coalition in northern Yemen, in areas controlled by the Shiite Houthi rebels. Official sources said that the fighters hit a private vehicle in Razah, in the Saada province, "by mistake" killing five people. In another air attack there were three victims, hit as they traveled in a vehicle in Shadeh village, also in Saada province.

The area is a stronghold of the Shiite Houthi rebels, who since September 2014 have taken control of the capital Sana'a; in the months following the advance of the rebels continued and they seized other Yemeni provinces.

Activists and international humanitarian organizations renew the condemnation of Saudi-led coalition air strikes which continue to claim victims among civilians. On 22 September last at least 20 people died in another raid that targeted the rebel stronghold of Hodeida, in the western part of the country. Even then, the government had spoke of a possible "error".

Meanwhile, there is little prospect of a humanitarian truce to bring relief to a people suffering from nearly two years of violence. Saudi Arabia has already said it is not prepared to accept a peace plan in Yemen if it does not provide for the dismantling of the Houthi armed faction.

Riyadh has also rejected a three-day truce proposed by rebel leaders. The kingdom [Saudi], confirmed coalition spokesman General Ahmed al-Asseri, does not "accept the presence of an armed militia at their doorstep".

Meanwhile, the United Nations, have rejected the proposal for an independent investigation into human rights abuses committed in the Yemeni civil war. The UN experts say they will continue to work with the current government commission in Yemen, to check for any violations. NGO activists demanded an "independent" group to be able to verify the abuses committed during the coalition air raids.

Since January 2015, Yemen has been the scene of a bloody internal conflict pitting the country’s Sunni leaders, backed by Riyadh, against Shia Houthi rebels, close to Iran.

In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition began air strikes against the rebels in an attempt to free the capital Sana'a and bring back then exiled President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi. So far the air campaign – criticised by the UN - has killed at least 6,600 people, mostly civilians and many children. At least 2.5 million people have been displaced from their homes.

For Saudi Arabia, the Houthis, allied to forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, are supported militarily by Iran, a charge that Tehran rejects.

Extremist groups linked to al Qaeda and jihadist militias linked to Islamic State are active in the country, a fact that has helped escalate violence and terror.

 

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