Skip to main content

'Dozens killed' in air strike on Houthi convoy in Yemen

Witnesses say at least 30 fighters and civilians killed in coalition attack as three vehicles entered khat market in town northeast of Sanaa
A Yemeni boy looks on in an area damaged in an air strike by the Saudi-led coalition in the capital Sanaa on 27 February (AFP)

At least 30 rebels and civilians were killed on Saturday when warplanes from the Saudi-led coalition struck a market northeast of the rebel-held Yemeni capital Sanaa, witnesses told the AFP news agency.

The air strike targeted three rebel vehicles as they entered a market in the town of Naqil bin Ghaylan, killing at least 30 Houthi fighters and civilians, one tribal source in the area said.

The rebel-controlled Saba news agency gave a higher death toll, saying that 60 civilians were killed and wounded in the attack, but it did not mention any casualties among fighters.

The attack hit Khulaqa market, which is known for selling khat, a mild narcotic that is chewed throughout Yemen, witnesses said.

The area is part of the Nehm region, where coalition-backed fighters loyal to Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi have been advancing against the rebels as they try to march on Sanaa.

New coalition air strikes were also reported on Saturday in Sanaa, with photos showing buildings damaged in the attacks.

Rights groups have repeatedly urged the coalition to avoid causing civilian casualties.

Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch accused the coalition of using US-supplied cluster bombs.

A panel of UN experts says the coalition has carried out 119 sorties that violated humanitarian law, and called for an international probe.

In response, the coalition announced that it would conduct its own inquiry to examine charges of possible abuses against civilians.

In late March 2015 the coalition launched an air campaign against rebels in support of the UN-recognised President Hadi.

The rebels, whom Saudi Arabia accuses of having Iranian backing, have controlled Sanaa since September 2014 and had placed Hadi under house arrest.

But he escaped, intially seeking refuge in second city Aden last year before fleeing to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, as the rebels advanced on the southern port.

Earlier on Saturday, the United Arab Emirates said one of its soldiers had died in Yemen while serving with the coalition.

Soldier Mohammed al-Dhahnani died "in an accident when his military vehicle overturned while performing his national duty" during coalition operations, the armed forces said in a statement carried by the Emirati state news agency WAM.

More than 70 Emirati soldiers have been killed in Yemen since the launch of its ground operation in support of President Hadi.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.