Saudi airstrike in Yemen leaves 20 civilians dead

Saudi airstrike in Yemen leaves 20 civilians dead

Saudi airstrike in Yemen leaves 20 civilians dead

An airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition battling Yemeni rebels struck a vehicle packed with fleeing civilians on Tuesday, killing at least 11 people, Yemeni security officials said.

Although the UNHCR said the number of civilian casualties is still being verified, initial reports point to "at least 20 deaths, including that of women and children".

Yemen has been suffering a civil war for about two and a half years, since Houthi rebels supported by forces of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh ousted the UN-backed transitional government led by fleeing President Abd-Rabbo Mansour Hadi and occupied the capital Sanaa in September 2014.

The UN's reporting also came as the Saudi-led coalition blocked a flight destined for Yemen's capital because global journalists were aboard, according to Reuters.

According to United Nations officials, more than 10,000 people have been killed in the war, while more than 11 percent of the country's population has been displaced as a direct result of the conflict. However, they "continue to be exposed to danger as the conflict has affected all of Yemen's mainland governorates", UNHCR said in its statement Tuesday.

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Judges found that the Saudi-led coalition was "not deliberately targeting civilians" and alleged massacres were under investigation, concluding that it had not been established that there was "a clear risk that the items might be used in the commission of a serious violation of worldwide humanitarian law".

The coalition has since March 2015 been targeting Houthi rebels fighting pro-government forces in Yemen in the country's deadly civil war and global rights groups accuse it of bombing civilian gatherings, markets, hospitals and residential areas across the country. UAE officials were not available to comment.Fighting in the two strategic provinces of Taiz and Marib has halted for more than a month, except for occasional air strikes and naval shelling on the rebels.Cracks in the Yemeni government on the Qatar crisis were highlighted when the quarrel broke out with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates imposing travel and diplomatic sanctions on Qatar.Yemen's government rushed to express solidarity with Qatar on the state news agency website.

Saudi Arabia is using British-manufactured weapons in the offensive, sparking failed legal challenge by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade in the High Court.

"It is necessary to work closely to contain the cholera epidemic and prevent its outbreak in more Yemeni provinces and cities to avoid a possible humanitarian crisis whose consequences may last for years to come", said the AL chief in the statement.

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