Renewed Saudi airstrikes in Yemen hit civilian targets

Written by NY Staff

DW — The Saudi-led military coalition has resumed bombing Yemen’s capital after a five-month pause. An overnight airstrike on a potato chip plant has killed at least nine civilian workers.

The Saudi-led military coalition launched airstrikes Tuesday against targets in Sanaa, ending a five-month cessation of strikes on the city.

The strikes on Sanaa in had stopped in March after reaching an informal agreement with the Houthis to reduce combat on the Yemeni-Saudi border.

But heavy bombardment has now resumed following failed UN peace talks in Kuwait between Yemen’s Saudi-backed government and Houthis fighters and their allies.

The latest air strikes hit a presidential compound and military base in Sanaa as well as a Republican Guard base in the Arhab area near the airport which was closed immediately to civilian flights. Pro-government forces allied to Saudi Arabia are trying to advance into the city from the north and east.

Potato chip factory leveled

An undetermined number of civilians also bore the brunt of much of the destruction. Medics said between nine and 14 civilians were killed in a strike on a potato chip factory in the Nahda district of the capital. Most of those killed were workers on a night shift at the food processing plant that had no apparent military value, medics said.

The United Nations has criticized Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies for waging an often indiscriminate air campaign on he country. The military coalition has also imposed a near-blockade aimed at weapons shipments to the Houthis – Shiite fighters allied with Iran – who control the capital and surrounding countryside.

The coalition had mostly allowed Sanaa airport to operate civilian and humanitarian aid flights since March though Sanaa’s port was largely destroyed by bombing and ships laden with vital humanitarian supplies are offloaded at a snail’s pace leading to severe food shortages.

In a separate development, residents in the southern Shabwa province said Al Qaeda militants had dismantled their checkpoints and had withdrawn from the city on Tuesday following air strikes – apparently by the Saudi-led coalition forces – targeting their positions there.

The militants had taken advantage of the country’s chaos to seize control of much of southern Yemen, but have suffered military setbacks inflicted by coalition-backed local militia.

Saudi Arabia and its mostly Gulf Arab allies intervened in Yemen’s civil war in March 2015 after the armed Houthi movement had pushed the government into exile in neighboring Saudi Arabia.