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Yemen: Houthi missile attack kills three children in Taiz

A missile fired at a school where pro-government forces are based killed 15 soldiers and three children nearby
A Yemeni boy looks for bullet casings to sell as scrap metal in a Taiz street on 27 April 2019 (AFP)

Yemen's rebel Houthi forces fired a missile on Sunday at a school where pro-government forces were stationed in the Taiz region, killing 15 soldiers as well as three children who were nearby, two residents and military sources told Reuters.

The residents said the children - two brothers and their relative - were in the area when the missile struck the school in the Kadha district of Taiz governorate.

Two military sources said 15 soldiers were killed. They added that the school had previously been used by Houthi forces and was taken over after pro-government fighters seized Kadha last week.

A Houthi official did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Fighting has recently escalated in the disputed Taiz in southwestern Yemen between fighters loyal to the internationally recognised government and the Houthi movement, which forced it from power in the capital, Sanaa, in 2014.

Peace efforts

Clashes in Taiz and in Marib in the north come as the United States and the United Nations have intensified efforts for a ceasefire between a Saudi-led coalition backing the government and the Houthis to revive UN-sponsored peace talks stalled since late 2018.

The Saudi coalition has intervened in Yemen for six years, but the war has been in a military stalemate for years. Taiz has remained effectively under siege.

The US envoy for Yemen on Friday blamed the Houthis for the continuing violence in the country, and accused the rebels of escalating the conflict at a time when Saudi Arabia has committed to a ceasefire.

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Speaking virtually at the Atlantic Council, Tim Lenderking also rebuked the Houthis for impeding the delivery of humanitarian aid in the war-torn country.

"We now have a sound plan for a nationwide ceasefire with elements that would immediately address Yemen's dire humanitarian situation directly. That plan has been before the Houthi leadership for a number of days," the US diplomat said.

But instead of committing to ending the conflict, Linderking said, the Houthis were "tragically" prioritising a military campaign in Marib, an oil-rich government stronghold.

The Saudi-led coalition had renewed its air strikes on Sanaa last week in response to Houthi missile and drone attacks.

Saudi Arabia and its regional allies, chiefly the United Arab Emirates, started a bombing campaign against the Houthis in March 2015 to restore the government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

Riyadh views the Houthis as Iranian proxies, but the rebels deny receiving material support from Tehran.

The war has killed more than 230,000 people, caused outbreaks of disease and brought Yemen to the verge of famine, in what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.