Saudi-led coalition in Yemen denies killing civilians in Saada air strike


Dubai (Reuters) – The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen on Wednesday denied that an air strike it carried out earlier this week in Saada province had killed civilians, as alleged by Houthi authorities.

The coalition that has been battling the Iran-aligned movement for five years said in a statement that it had targeted armed members of the group. The Houthi health minister had said 13 civilians, including four children, were killed in Monday’s air strike.

Both sides have released footage as proof. Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the videos or when or where they were taken.

The United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Lise Grande, said in a statement on Tuesday that initial field reports indicated that at least 12 civilians, including four children, were killed in strikes on a vehicle in Saada.

“We share our deepest condolences with the bereaved families and loved ones of those who have lost their lives in this terrible, unjustified attack,” Grande said.

The coalition statement said the vehicle was carrying armed Houthi combatants near the Saudi-Yemeni border and that the air strike was “legitimate”.

The United Nations on Monday removed the Western-backed coalition from a U.N. blacklist several years after it was first accused of killing and injuring children in Yemen.

Violence has surged between the two sides after a six-week ceasefire prompted by the coronavirus pandemic expired last month.

The coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after the Houthis ousted the Saudi-backed government from power in the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014.

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