AntiWar.com & Xinhua & Reuters – 2015-08-31 23:41:36
Saudi Airstrikes Kill 36 in Attack on Yemen Bottling Plant
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(August 30, 2015) — Saudi warplanes attacked a bottling camp in the Hajjah Province of northern Yemen today, killing 36 workers at the factory, who were identified as civilians by local residents. This was the latest in a long line of huge civilian tolls in the Saudi war.
While Saudi officials usually shrug off the huge death tolls of their war, today they felt the need to deny that the death toll was wholly civilian, claiming the factory was a “bomb-making facility” and that 17 of the 36 people they killed were Houthis, with the rest civilian workers.
Oddly, the Saudi statement claimed also that the plant was next door to a rebel training facility, and that the Houthis killed were at the training ground, and not the bottling plant. Though locals confirmed Houthi sites in the area were targeted, they affirmed the 36 civilian toll.
Saudi warplanes have been bombing targets across Yemen since March, demanding the re-installation of former President Hadi, who resigned in January. Hadi is in exile in Saudi Arabia, and insists he is still the rightful government of Yemen.
Saudi-led Airstrikes Kill 17 Houthi Rebels,
19 Civilians North of Yemen
SANAA (August 30, 2015) — Saudi-led warplanes killed at least 17 Shiite Houthi rebels and 19 civilians in multiple airstrikes in Yemen’s northern province of Hajjah on Sunday, an official and witnesses said.
“A total of 17 new recruited young rebels training in Abs military camp at Abs district in Hajjah were killed and other dozens were severely injured,” an official there told Xinhua by phone. “The next-door bottling plant, which is frequented by the rebels, was also hit by the fighter jets, killing at least 19 workers and wounding several others,” the official added.
Witnesses and residents confirmed both incidents. They said both air attacks were part of at least 15 airstrikes on several Shiite rebel positions in the area since early Sunday morning. The air campaign came after the Shiite Houthi rebels sent reinforcements of new recruited youths from villages to frontlines in Abs area.
The Saudi-led Arab coalition has been air striking on a daily basis the Iranian-allied Shiite Houthi group across the country since March 26, when President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi fled to the Saudi capital Riyadh to take refuge. The coalition said its intervention aims to restore Hadi’s authority in the country.
The Shiite armed group seized much of Yemen, including the capital Sanaa last September, and ousted Hadi and his government. The group said it was a revolution against corrupt officials loyal to Saudi Arabia and the United States.
Over four weeks ago, Hadi’s forces, backed by elite troops and armored vehicles from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, launched a number of offensives against the rebels and recaptured the southern provinces of Aden, Lahj, al-Dhalea, Abyan and Shabwa.
UN humanitarian agencies have recorded at least 6,221 civilian casualties, including at least 1,950 civilians killed and 4,271 wounded in the five months of conflict. There is no sign that the warring parties intend to end the civil war, as the impoverished Arab country is at risk to escalate an all-out civil war.
On Thursday, a large number of Yemeni troops trained in Saudi Arabia and equipped with modern military gear entered Yemeni border crossing al-Wadee’ah in Yemen’s southeast province of Hadramout. They have already arrived in the oil-rich central province of Marib, some 173 km northeast of Sanaa, according to military sources there. They said the forces are all geared up for cleaning Marib from the rebels and advancing to the rebel-held capital Sanaa in weeks.
“A ground operation backed by the coalition air campaign began in Marib today (Sunday),” a senior military official told Xinhua.
Saudi-led Coalition Air Strike Kills
36 Yemeni Civilians: Residents
SANAA (August 30, 2015) — An air strike by warplanes from a Saudi-led coalition, which said it targeted a bomb-making factory, killed 36 civilians working at a bottling plant in the northern Yemeni province of Hajjah on Sunday, residents said.
In another air raid on the capital Sanaa, residents said four civilians were killed when a bomb hit their house near a military base in the south of the city. The attacks were the latest in an air campaign launched in March by an alliance made up mainly of Gulf Arab states in support of the exiled government in its fight against Houthi forces allied to Iran.
“The process of recovering the bodies is finished now. The corpses of 36 workers, many of them burnt or in pieces, were pulled out after an air strike hit the plant this morning,” resident Issa Ahmed told Reuters by phone from the site in Hajjah.
Coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri denied the strike had hit a civilian target, saying it was a location used by the Houthis to make improvised explosive devices and to train African migrants whom they had forced to take up arms. “We got very accurate information about this position and attacked it. It is not a bottling factory,” he said.
He accused the Houthis of using African migrants, stuck in Yemen after arriving by sea before the war in the hope of crossing the Saudi border and finding work in the oil producer, as cannon fodder in dangerous border operations.
Human rights group Amnesty International said in a report this month that the coalition bombing campaign had left a “bloody trail of civilian death” which could amount to war crimes.
Air strikes killed 65 people in the frontline city of Taiz last Friday, most of them civilians, and the bombing of a milk factory in Western Yemen in July killed 65 people including 10 children. More than 4,300 people have been killed in five months of war in Yemen while disease and suffering in the already impoverished country have spread.
Militias and army units loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, currently taking refuge in Saudi Arabia, have made significant advances toward the Houthi-controlled capital in the last two months but the group remains ensconced in Yemen’s north and casualties mount in nationwide combat every day.
Also on Sunday, a bomb exploded near the vacated US Embassy in Sanaa and unknown gunmen shot and killed a senior security official in the southern port city of Aden.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility, but Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — the deadliest branch of the global militant organization — has been attacking the Yemeni state and plotting against Western targets for years.
A powerful bomb detonated in front of a gate on the wall surrounding the embassy around midnight on Sunday but claimed no casualties, residents and officials said.
The United States and other Western countries closed their missions in Yemen in February as the political feud between the Houthis and the Hadi government led to war. The Houthi-run state news agency Saba quoted a security official calling it a “terrorist and criminal act.”
In Aden, the local director of security, Colonel Abdul Hakim Snaidi, was shot dead outside his home by gunmen in a passing car, a security official said.
His death is the first such killing of a senior security official since the city was recaptured by pro-Hadi militiamen in July. Since then, a power vacuum has grown, with Al Qaeda militants moving into a main neighborhood last week and unknown assailants blowing up the intelligence headquarters.
Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Additional reporting by Angus McDowall; Writing by Noor Chehayber.
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