Warplanes from a Saudi-led alliance bombed the Iran-allied Houthi movement throughout Yemen on Wednesday and dropped weapons for its allies battling the group in the southwestern city of Taiz.
The sorties show the coalition is determined to use its air power to push back the Houthis, Yemen’s dominant group, a day after medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said coalition bombing destroyed one of its hospitals late on Monday – a charge the alliance denied.
Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab countries have been bombing the Houthis and supporting militias opposed to them since late March. At least 5,600 people have been killed, but the alliance has made little headway towards restoring Yemen’s exiled government to the Houthi-controlled capital, Sanaa.
Taiz, Yemen’s third largest city, has become a major front in the coalition’s northward push towards the capital. Coalition planes have dropped weapons to Islamist militias fighting artillery and heavy machine gun duels with the Houthis in civilian neighbourhoods there.
“Coalition forces supplied the resistance with a quantity of high-quality weapons which landed in the south of the city in an area under our control,” a senior militia leader told Reuters.
The United Nations and aid groups have expressed alarm at a worsening humanitarian crisis in Yemen, which even before the war struggled with widespread poverty and hunger. They say civilian targets, including markets, factories, houses, schools and hospitals, have been bombed.
MSF expressed outrage at the missile attack on its medical facility in Yemen’s far northern province of Saada, and Human Rights Watch said the coalition appeared not to be investigating alleged rights violations.
“Human Rights Watch has not been able to ascertain that Saudi Arabia or other coalition members are investigating a single air strike,” the group said in a statement on Wednesday.
“In some instances the coalition has denied that the attacks Human Rights Watch documented were unlawful, but has not provided information to support those claims,” it said.
“The world is rightly concerned about the toll, especially to civilians, from this war,” Yemen’s Riyadh-based vice president, Khaled Bahah, wrote in an editorial for the Wall Street Journal.. “Any civilian death is a tragedy for which my heart bleeds, and the forces allied with us are taking extraordinary care to avoid civilian casualties and target only military objectives.”
Air strikes also hit military bases and Houthi combat positions in Taiz, Sanaa and the Western Red Sea port of Hodaida, residents said. Many of the raids targeting facilities that have already been hit dozens of times throughout the mostly inconclusive seven-month war.
“The conflict is totally deadlocked,” Yemeni analyst Farea al-Muslimi said. “There’s no political solution around the corner and both sides are settling scores with each other with impunity as civilians are stuck in the middle.”