CAIRO – The seven-year war in Yemen flared up again on Friday as Saudi-led coalition air strikes into northern Yemen killed at least 70 people and knocked out the entire country. the country’s internet ministry, according to international aid and rebel-controlled groups. area.
Limited to a week in which rebel drones strike as far as Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia’s bombs drop in rebel-controlled northern Yemen, the hostile acts are the latest evidence of The stubbornness of the conflict a year after President Biden took office vowing to bring the war – and one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters – was over.
After months of seizing territory from the Houthis, Iran-backed rebels who control northern Yemen, forces backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have managed to regain a territory numbers and dynamics of the war. Those insults have shaken international efforts to push the two sides toward peace.
Friday’s air strikes, which hit targets across Houthi-controlled territory, including a prison and damaged the country’s internet infrastructure, raise the risk of heating things up even further.
Ahmed Mahat, head of the mission Doctors Without Borders, said in the northern city of Saada near the Saudi border, where an air strike destroyed a makeshift detention facility, Republic Hospital received about 70 dead and 138 wounded and could not take any more in Yemen. Two other hospitals in the city were flooded with an increasing number of injured patients, even as their medical supplies dried up, Doctors Without Borders said.
Yahya Shaim, a Saada health official, said in a phone interview that the death toll had reached 267, including 77 dead and 190 injured, adding that there were about 50 people. still under the rubble.
“There are many bodies still at the scene of the air strike, many people are missing,” Mahat said in a statement, quoting a colleague from Doctors Without Borders in Saada. “It is impossible to know how many people were killed. It appeared to be an appalling act of violence.”
The International Committee of the Red Cross said more than 100 people were killed or injured overnight in the detention center in Saada.
Emergency workers were still tending to the dilapidated building for victims during the day, the Red Cross said. Video broadcast on Al Mayadeen, a pro-Iran news channel, shows rescuers trying to clear debris at the site to free people trapped in the rubble.
Local media outlets affiliated with the Houthis blamed the Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting the Houthis since 2015. Although aid groups are more cautious in assigning responsibility, The Saudi-led coalition has repeatedly bombed Houthi forces and territory, including civilian targets, throughout the course of the war, killing thousands of civilians.
Coalition stepped up attacks last week after Houthis attack a large airport in the UAE – Saudi Arabia’s main partner in the alliance – with drones and missiles on Monday, killing three and injuring six, in what it said was retaliation for the The UAE supports pro-government militias.
Armed and trained by the UAE, these militias have recently recaptured parts of Shabwa province from Houthi control and are encroaching on Houthi interests in the oil-rich Marib province. Marib and Shabwa have seen many of the worst fighting in Yemen over the past year after the Houthis launched an attack last February to seize key oil infrastructure from the Saudi-backed government. Saudi support.
Another coalition air strike early Friday morning hit a telecommunications hub in the port city of Al Hudaydah, severely damaging critical internet infrastructure and plunging Yemen into internet blackouts. , a telecommunications ministry official in Hadramout province asked to remain anonymous because it was not authorized. to talk about the case.
Save the Children said the attack killed three children playing on a nearby football field.
The country lost its Internet connection starting around 1 a.m. Friday, according to NetBlocks, an internet monitoring group, and Cloudflare, a web and services security company, went down Friday night.
The Saudi-led coalition responded to Houthi attacks on the UAE by attacking the Houthi-controlled capital Sana on Monday night and killing what Houthi media say was at least 20 people. , including the family of a Houthi army general.
On Friday, Mahat said the latest air strikes had also hit Sana and its airport, and the aid group had received multiple reports of overnight air strikes elsewhere across the north. Yemen.
But none was as deadly as the prison attack in Saada. No other information about the victims was immediately available, but Save the Children said initial reports indicate that most African migrants, who try to cross into Yemen on their way to find work in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.
The Houthis first came to power following the 2011 Arab Spring uprising against Yemen’s authoritarian dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh, his successor, deputy, having struggled to deal with the situation. corruption, unemployment and separatism in Yemen.
After they captured the capital in 2014 and 2015, forcing the Saudi-backed government to flee, the Saudi-led coalition began targeting them, fearing that the Their sponsor Iran will gain a foothold in Saudi Arabia’s backyard.
Now split between Houthi control in the north and Saudi-backed government control in the south, Yemen has become the site of what aid groups see as a among the world’s worst humanitarian disasters, with millions of people living in famine-like conditions, an economy in disarray and basic services, including many hospitals, in disrepair. torn state.
Understanding the war in Yemen
A divided country. A coalition led by Saudi Arabia fought in Yemen against the Houthis, a Shiite Muslim rebel group that dominated the northern parts of the country, for many years. Here’s what to know about the conflict:
Within a month of taking office, Biden promised to push for an end to the war in Yemen, in part by cutting arms sales to Saudi Arabia. However, when the Houthis took the position last year, the Biden administration announced in November that they would selling $650 million air-to-air missiles, classified as a defensive weapon, for the kingdom.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in recent years it was unclear whether the weapons used in the airstrikes were supplied by the United States, which in recent years has so far remained. is the largest arms seller to Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom. oversee the transfer of weapons.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister on Friday to emphasize “the United States’ commitment to helping our Gulf partners improve their ability to defend against threats from Yemen,” the foreign ministry said in a statement, adding that he had “emphasized the importance of mitigating civilian casualties. Blinken condemned the Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia and the UAE on Monday, the statement said. When asked about the Saudi-led attacks on Yemen on Friday, the State Department declined to comment.
Friday’s Saudi-led bombings came on the same day the United Nations Security Council, meeting at the request of the UAE, unanimously condemned what the council called “attacks” terror in Abu Dhabi” earlier this week, as well as on websites in Saudi Arabia.
However, Mona Juul, ambassador from Norway and chair of the council for January, also told reporters she was appalled by Saudi Arabia’s more horrifying bombings in Yemen, including in Friday’s prison attack.
“We are very concerned,” she told reporters outside council chambers. “It’s unacceptable.”
Asked about the severity of the attack, the Emirati ambassador, Lana Nusseibeh, said that the coalition was “committed to complying with international law and responding proportionately in all its military operations. “
Report contributed by Saeed Al-Batati from Al-Mukalla, Yemen, Rick Gladstone from New York and Hwaida Saad from Beirut, Lebanon.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/21/world/middleeast/yemen-saudi-arabia-airstrike.html Saudi-led airstrikes kill a prison in Yemen