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article imageAir raids on Yemen capital kill dozens

By Jamil Nasser (AFP)     Aug 23, 2017 in World

More than 30 people, including civilians, were reported have been killed Wednesday in air raids on Yemen's capital, where a Saudi-lead coalition has been bombing Iran-backed Huthi rebels.

The Huthis, who control Sanaa along with forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, blamed the pro-government Arab military coalition for the attack on Arhab district.

The rebels' claim that the Saudi-led coalition had carried out the attack was made in a statement on their Al-Massira television channel. A spokesperson for the coalition not reachable for comment.

Human rights groups have repeatedly criticised the coalition over the civilian death toll from the bombing campaign it launched in support of Yemen's internationally recognised government in March 2015.

Since then, thousands of people have been killed in the conflict, most of them civilians.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called on the United States, Britain and France to stop their deliveries of bombs and other weapons to Saudi Arabia because of concerns over the civilian casualties.

Wednesday's strikes on Sanaa's northern outskirts killed at least 35 people, and rescue workers were still pulling bodies from the rubble, said Hussein al-Tawil, head of the Sanaa branch of Yemen's Red Crescent.

An official with an international aid organisation confirmed to AFP that at least 30 people had been killed in a series of strikes on the capital.

At least one strike targeted a motel where workers from a nearby qat farm had been staying, according to witnesses and the motel manager, Taher al-Ahdal.

Residents said members of the Huthi rebel group had also been staying in the area.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the strike, which Tawil said had also wounded at least 13 people who had been admitted to hospitals.

Yemen's capital has been controlled by the Huthi alliance since September 2014.

The Saudi-led military coalition stepped in in 2015 to back up Yemen's President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, and it now controls the country's airspace.

The United States also regularly conducts drone strikes on Yemen which Washington says target Al-Qaeda.

Northern and southern Yemen have both come under aerial attack in recent months, and the coalition has come under massive pressure from international organisations including the United Nations for its role in the raids.

The UN has said the Saudi coalition was likely responsible for a July attack on the southwestern Taez province killed 20 people, including children.

An air raid on a funeral reception in Arhab killed eight women and one child in February, prompting the Saudi-led coalition to announce it was "investigating the reports".

The coalition has not however claimed responsibility for the attack.

In June, 24 civilians were killed when an air strike hit a market in northern Yemen that was a centre for trafficking in qat, a leafy stimulant plant that is widely used in Yemen but banned by neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

Sources including hospital officials blamed the June strike on the Saudi-led Arab coalition, which has also not claimed responsibility for the attack.

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