Humanitarian truce collapses in Yemen as airstrikes, clashes continue

Humanitarian truce collapses in Yemen as airstrikes, clashes continue
A five-day humanitarian truce collapsed in Yemen on its second day as Saudi-led coalition airstrikes targeted rebels and pro-government forces attacked a strategic rebel-held airbase.
3 min read
28 July, 2015
The Saudi-led coaltion's airstrikes have caused a great deal of damage to civilian areas [Getty]

A humanitarian truce in Yemen has collapsed as warplanes of the Saudi-led coalition resumed strikes against rebels and pro-government forces attacked a rebel-held airbase north of Aden.

The five-day truce began Monday. It was unilaterally declared by the pro-government Arab coalition to allow the delivery of desperately needed relief supplies.

The coalition had reserved the right to hit any military movement by the insurgents, while the rebels said they had not been consulted about the ceasefire.

Fighting over a strategic airbase

Airstrikes targeted rebels north of Aden, which was mostly recaptured by loyalists last week after four months of ferocious fighting, military sources said.

Raids also struck rebels in nearby Lahij province, as forces loyal to exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi launched a fierce attack on the strategic al-Anad airbase, about 50 kilometres north of Aden, and the city of al-Houta about 15 kilometres to the south of the base.

The clashes at al-Anad and in al-Hawta started at dawn this morning when forces of the pro-government "Popular Resistance" attacked the forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the Ansar Allah movement (commonly known as the Houthis), under air cover provided by coalition warplanes, according to numerous sources.

The sources said fierce clashes were reportedly currently underway on the perimetre of al-Anad airbase, adding that the coalition had launched airstrikes against the base itself, and numerous parts of the base were now on fire.

Fierce clashes were also ongoing in the city of al-Hawta to the south, the sources said, in an effort to open a road from Aden to al-Anad airbase.

Three air raids also targeted a rebel convoy near Sabr, north of Aden, where loyalists had advanced over the past days, military sources said.

Other raids hit a building occupied by insurgents in Jaawala, also north of Aden.

An overnight air strike hit rebels in Marib, east of Sanaa, witnesses said.

Fighting around Aden has left 28 dead since Monday, including 22 rebels, two civilians and two pro-Hadi southern fighters, said city health chief Al-Khader Laswar.

A car bomb in Abyan province

     With no evident military target, this attack appears to be a war crime
- Human Rights Watch researcher

In Abyan province to the east of Lahij, dozens of Houthis were reportedly killed or injured after a car bomb targeted a group of them.

An anonymous security source told Anadolu news agency by telephone that a car bomb exploded near a group of Houthi fighters in Lawdar, killing or injuring dozens of them. No accurate count of the dead and wounded is available.

The source said the car bomb was most likely the work of Ansar al-Sharia, an organization affiliated with al-Qaeda in Yemen, which has previously targeted groups of Houthis with car bombs in a number of governorates.

No official statement or comment has yet been released from the Houthi movement on the incident.

Clashes flared between armed Houthis and the forces of the former president on one side, and fighters of the popular resistance in the Minyasa region in Abyan yesterday morning. No reports of casualties are available.

'War crime'

Yesterday Human Rights Watch condemned the killing of at least 65 civilians, among them women and children, in an air raid in the Yemeni port city of Mokha by the Saudi-led coalition last Friday 24 July as "an apparent war crime".

Coalition warplanes repeatedly struck two residential compounds of the Mokha steam power plant over about half an hour.

Ole Solvang, a senior emergencies researcher in the organisation, said "With no evident military target, this attack appears to be a war crime."

The organisation also said it had investigated a number of other air raids in the Yemen conflict that appeared to be unlawful.

It condemned the failure of Saudi Arabia and other coalition members to investigate "apparently unlawful airstrikes" in Yemen, and said that if the coalition members wouldn’t investigate the airstrikes, the UN should.