Deadly street battles raged Sunday in Taiz, Yemen’s third-largest city, and airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition battling Shi’ite rebels struck targets in several cities, security officials said.
The fighting between government forces and rebels was heaviest around government and security buildings in the center of Taiz, killing some 20 civilians and wounding dozens more, the officials said, adding that indiscriminately fired mortar rounds hit several private residences and landed near a hospital at one point.
Reached by telephone, Taiz residents described relentless artillery, tank, and heavy machine gun fire blasting through the city as families sought shelter wherever they could.
‘‘It’s like our homes have become a military target, they are killing us in cold blood,’’ said resident Tawfiq Al Maamari. ‘‘We left our homes with our children because the missiles are raining down on us without mercy.’’
The continued airstrikes and combat between factions on the ground underline how a negotiated peace remains elusive in the Arab world’s poorest country, despite a Saudi announcement last week that coalition operations would scale down and shift to focus on diplomacy, humanitarian and counter-terrorism issues. Both sides have said they welcome a return to dialogue.