Airstrike in northwest Yemen kills seven children, two women: UN

CAIRO (AP) — An airstrike in northwest Yemen killed seven children and two women, the United Nations (UN) reported on Monday, the latest escalation of a conflict that has killed thousands of civilians and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The Houthi rebels had accused their rivals, the Saudi-led coalition, of striking civilian targets across northwest Yemen late Sunday, killing women and children as young as two-years -old. The UN humanitarian office in Yemen said field reports appeared to confirm an attack that left nine dead and wounded another two children and two women in Hajjah province.

“It is truly appalling to hear accounts of lifeless children being dragged out of the rubble,” said Save the Children’s Country Director Xavier Jouber, in Yemen.

The Saudi-led coalition said it would investigate the strike “to consider the possibility of an accident”. “Based on what was revealed… about the possibility of civilian casualties during an operation targetting a gathering of Houthi leaders, all documents were transferred to the Joint Incident Assessment Team for consideration,” said coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki.

The coronavirus pandemic, which has surged across war-torn Yemen and overwhelmed its deficient health system, has created new urgency for peace efforts.

But UN-backed proposals to bring about a cease fire between the internationally recognised government, backed by the coalition, and the Iran-supported Houthi rebels, have so far failed to gain traction.

File photo shows smoke rises as Yemenis inspect the damage at the site of airstrikes in the northwestern Houthi-held city of Saada, Yemen on January 6, 2018. PHOTO: AFP