Civilians killed as Saudi coalition resumes airstrikes on Yemeni capital

At least nine people have been killed in a Saudi-led coalition airstrike on the Yemeni capital, Sanaa. The assault is reported to be the first in recent months, and adds to the growing civilian death toll during the prolonged operation against Houthi forces.

Civilian deaths occurred in an airstrike on a potato chip factory in the Nahda district of Sanaa, Reuters reported, citing local medics who said at least nine people were killed, including women. Al Jazeera puts the death toll at 14.

The attack also led to the suspension of all flights bound for Sanaa International Airport for 72 hours.

The bombing came after Saudi-led coalition spokesman General Ahmed Asiri announced that the airstrikes against Shiite Houthi militia had resumed and led to the closure of Sanaa airport, saying fighter jets had hit military targets “around” the city, according to AFP.

The coalition is backing Yemeni forces loyal to the exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in their bid oust Houthi forces from Sanaa, siding with Shiite Iran.

The Saudi military and its Gulf allies have conducted thousands of air raids on Houthi forces and their supporters in the Yemeni Army, but the strikes were put on hold after reaching an informal agreement with the Houthis on a local ceasefire on the Yemeni-Saudi border.

Recent airstrikes have also resulted in numerous civilian casualties.

In early April, Saudi aircraft attacked a crowded marketplace in Mastaba, a village in Yemen’s northern Hajja governorate, some 45km from the Saudi border. The UN children’s agency, UNICEF, estimated the death toll of the airstrikes at 119, including 22 children.

READ MORE: Hospital in Yemen hit by Saudi-led airstrike – report

Human Rights Watch later examined the bomb fragments found at the site and determined they came from a US-made “GBU-31 satellite-guided bomb, which consists of a US-supplied MK-84 2,000lb bomb mated with a JDAM satellite guidance kit, also US-supplied.”

In just one week in January, two hospitals in separate parts of Yemen were hit by Saudi airstrikes, resulting in dozens of civilian deaths.

Both targets, the UN said later, had no apparent military significance to make them legitimate targets for air operations. Under international law, attacks on civilians or civilian sites are strictly prohibited, and belligerent parties are bound by an obligation to hit military targets only.