Over 136 dead in Saudi-Yemeni air strikes

A series of Saudi-led coalition air strikes in Yemen have killed at least 136 civilians since 6 December, 2017, a report from Reuters confirms.

The United Nations (UN) also verified that a total of 87 civilians were severely injured across the capital Sana’a, Saada and Hudaydah.

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Image shows  scene from a Saudi-led coalition air strike in Sanaa, Yemen on 13 December 2017 [Mohammed Hamoud/Anadolu Agency]

A human rights activist, Rupert Colville, said in a statement: “We are deeply concerned at the recent surge in civilian casualties in Yemen as a result of intensified air strikes by the …coalition, following the killing of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa on Dec. 4.”

The deaths which occurred over a period of 12 days recorded 9 children as casualties, including 45 pro-government prisoners.

A Houthi-fired missile was aimed at the royal palace in Riyadh as Saudi Arabia continues its US-supported airstrikes against anti-government Houthi fighters since October 2015.

Iran has been blamed for arming the rebels.

Seven air strikes hit a prison in the Shaub district of Sana’a, killing some 45 detainees thought to be loyal to internationally recognized President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi while another 14 children and 6 adults were killed in a farmhouse in Huydaydah on 15 December.

In addition, 2 children and eight women who were returning from a wedding party in Marib governorate early this week were also killed.

Reports from Saudi state media also said aid routes were being used to get missiles to the Houthis in continuation of the offensive which has lasted more than a thousand days.

Today’s media reports confirm the Houthi group fired a missile into the capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, with its target being the Al-Yamama royal palace, but no injuries were reported and the warhead was intercepted by the Saudi defence forces.

The attack attracted huge waves of response on social media, with many netizens sharing news that a loud blast has been heard in Riyadh. Hashtag “sound of an explosion in Riyadh” trended on Twitter today.

Political activists are, however, arguing that given the extent of Saudi involvement in Yemen — which is the subject of a human rights investigation at the U.N. over allegations of war crimes —if the Houthis have any rights to retaliate.

Nabeel Khoury, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East who worked in the U.S. Foreign Service for 25 years, said, “Generally speaking, you have the right to defend yourself, by the international laws of war. If you you have someone firing at you, you have the right to fire back.” 

Mr. Nabeel also noted that the laws call on parties to do their utmost to avoid hitting civilian areas.

“It has been obvious the Saudis and the Arab coalition are using the best American-bought equipment to repeatedly hit civilian areas,” he said.

He continued, “From the Houthi’s point of view…although they have the right to fire back, they are really foolish to do it. Because strategically, these rockets don’t change anything. It’s like shaking a hive of bees or wasps. They’re all going to come flying out at you.

“All they are doing is poking…Haley and Saudi Arabia make a big deal out of it, but it doesn’t do anything because there hasn’t been one Saudi injured because of a couple of rockets that these guys have fired. However, I’d like to say that the Houthis make lots of mistakes and this is one of them.”