Dozens of Civilians, Mostly Children, Dead in Yemen After Airstrike Hits Bus

Dozens of civilians, mostly children, have been killed and more wounded in an airstrike by the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition in Yemen that hit a bus in the rebel-held north of the country.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), one of the few humanitarian institutions helping civilians on the ground in the war-torn country, said a hospital supported by the organization had received dozens of casualties after the attack at a market in Dahyanin Sa’ada governorate.

“Under international humanitarian law, civilians must be protected during conflict,” the organization tweeted. Johannes Bruwer, head of delegation for the ICRC in Yemen, tweeted: “Scores killed, even more injured, most under the age of 10.”

It was not possible to confirm the death toll, but Abdul-Ghani Nayeb, a health department chief in Sa’ada, said 43 were killed and at least 61 injured, according to Reuters. Houthi-controlled Al Masirah television broadcast unverified footage of dead and bloodied children being transferred to a hospital. Children are seen screaming as medical teams treat them.

The Saudi-led coalition accused said the strikes were aimed at missile launchers used to attack Jizan industrial city in southern Saudi Arabia, a statement carried by state news agency SPA said.

“(The air strikes) conformed to international and humanitarian laws,” the statement said, quoting coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki. The statement accused the Iran-aligned Houthis of using children as human shields.

The coalition, also backed by the UAE, launched a military intervention in Yemen in 2015 aimed at countering the advances of Iran-backed Houthis, who are viewed by Riyadh as Iranian proxies. The Saudi intervention is also aimed at reinstating the ousted president, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Riyadh and Tehran are on the opposing ends of the three-year conflict. In recent months, Saudi Arabia and UAE forces have advanced towards the port city of Hodeidah, which is held by the Houthis. Most aid and food for Yemen comes through the port.

In response, Houthis have intensified missile attacks on Saudi targets. Two Houthi missile attacks on oil tankers off the Yemeni coast led to Saudi Arabia temporarily suspending oil shipments through the strategic shipping lane of Bab al-Mandeb.

The Saudi-led coalition was accused of carrying out airstrikes on August 2 near a fish market and hospital in Hodeidah that killed 55 people and injured 130 more.

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SOURCE: The Guardian, Saeed Kamali Dehghan