Saudi-led airstrikes kill 15 at wedding in Yemen
Sanaa, Yemen — Two airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition killed at least 15 civilians and wounded 25 others in Yemen on Wednesday at a wedding hosted by a tribal leader known to support the Houthi rebels, witnesses and independent security officials said.
The strikes targeted the home of the tribal leader in Sanban, a region in Dhamar province 113 km (70 miles) southeast of the capital, Sanaa, the officials and witnesses said.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. Witnesses declined to give their names for fear of reprisals.
There was no immediate coalition comment. The coalition last week denied that its airstrikes hit a wedding party Sept. 28, killing more than 130 people in the deadliest single event of Yemen’s civil war.
News of the latest airstrikes emerged as officials said Yemeni government forces and their allies, including coalition troops, captured the last outpost of the Shiite Houthi rebels in the key Marib province. The forces took the town of Sirwah, said Col. Ayed al-Moradi, a Yemeni military official.
With pressure increasing on the Houthis, the United Nations on Wednesday announced that the rebels had accepted a Security Council resolution calling for an end to the fighting. The U.N. special envoy was on his way to the region to see how Yemen’s government would respond.
The Houthis have long resisted calls to withdraw from all areas they have seized, which is a key part of the resolution the council approved in April shortly after the conflict began.
Previous attempts at peace talks have failed. U.N. special envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed now will seek the support of all main parties to try again, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.
The fighting has killed more than 4,000 people, leaving the Arab world’s poorest country in the grip of a humanitarian crisis and on the brink of famine.
The forces’ advance on the Houthis’ last outpost in Marib had been stalling for weeks.
Houthis said they repelled attacks amid coalition airstrikes, but Yemen’s pro-government satellite TV broadcast footage of bodies and destroyed tanks and armored vehicles from inside Sirwah.
Emirati Brig. Gen. Ali Saif al-Kaabi, part of the coalition, told the satellite TV channel that Marib province is now under anti-Houthi forces’ control.
According to medical officials, 70 Houthis and more than 50 pro-government fighters were killed in three days of fighting over the town. Witnesses in the town said few Houthi pockets still remain in Sirwah.
The coalition’s goal is to retake Sanaa, which the rebels captured a year ago, but that still remains a challenge.
Obstacles along the road west of Marib include more than 10,000 land mines planted by the Houthis, according to a Yemeni military official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
In another development Wednesday, the Houthi-run SABA news agency said rebel fighters targeted and hit a warship from the Saudi-led coalition that was stationed in Bab al-Mandab Strait, the strategic southern entrance to the Red Sea and the gateway to the Suez Canal.
The report could not be independently confirmed late Wednesday.