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Yemeni officials: Saudi strikes kill at least 8 in northwest

June 25, 2018
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A displaced Yemeni woman and her child, who fled their home by the fighting the port city of Hodeida, sit in a school allocated for IDPs in Sanaa, Yemen, Saturday, Jun. 23, 2018. Last week, the Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen's internationally recognized government launched an offensive to retake rebel-held Hodeida. Fighting has been raging especially at and around the city's airport, threatening to worsen Yemen's humanitarian situation. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — A pair of airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition on Monday killed at least eight civilians — all members of a single family — in Yemen’s northwestern Amran province near the capital, Sanaa, security officials said.

The airstrikes, which hit sites in the al-Barid neighborhood in the city of Amran, also wounded over 20 people, the officials said.

Also Monday, the Saudi-led coalition claimed that one of their airstrikes killed at least 41 Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, including eight Lebanese Hezbollah members who were fighting with them, in Yemen’s northern Saada province.

Meanwhile, in the port city of Hodeida, officials and witnesses said hundreds of families have been forced to leave their homes in the surrounding province, about two weeks after the coalition launched an assault to take Hodeida from the Houthis.

A convoy of at least 50 vehicles, carrying hundreds of people, has left the city, heading to the southwestern city of Taiz, they said. All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media while the witnesses feared for their safety.

The Saudi-led coalition launched the campaign to retake Hodeida earlier this month, with Emirati troops leading the force of government soldiers and irregular militia fighters backing Yemen’s exiled government. Saudi Arabia has provided air support, with targeting guidance and refueling from the United States.

Hodeida, home to 600,000 people, is some 150 kilometers (90 miles) southwest of Sanaa. The campaign to take Hodeida threatens to worsen Yemen’s humanitarian situation as it’s the main entry point for food, humanitarian aid and fuel supplies to the country.

Aid groups fear a protracted fight could force a shutdown of the port and potentially tip millions into starvation. Some 70 percent of Yemen’s food enters via the port, as well as the bulk of humanitarian aid and fuel supplies. Around two-thirds of the country’s population of 27 million relies on aid and 8.4 million are at risk of starving.

The Houthis seized control of Sanaa in September 2014, and later pushed south toward the port city of Aden. The Saudi-led coalition entered the conflict in March 2015, and has faced criticism for a campaign of airstrikes that has killed civilians and destroyed hospitals and markets.

The Houthis, meanwhile, have laid land mines, killing and wounding civilians. They have also targeted religious minorities and imprisoned opponents.

Impoverished Yemen has been devastated and pushed to the brink of famine by the stalemated three-year civil war that has left around two-thirds of Yemen’s population of 27 million relying on aid, and over 8 million at risk of starving.

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