Saudi-led coalition attacks Yemeni Capital City

A glimpse of Sana'a, Yemen A glimpse of Sana'a, Yemen Saif Albadni on Unsplash

23 November 2021

A Saudi-led coalition has launched airstrikes on the Yemeni capital Sana’a, killing and wounding civilians and destroying civilian property

A coalition led by Saudi Arabia has launched airstrikes on what it describes as ‘legitimate military targets’ in Sana’a, Yemen’s capital city. The coalition, which includes the Gulf States and has been active in the Country since 2015, is acting in support of the internationally recognised government of Yemen, which, like Saudi Arabia, is Sunni. The airstrikes come after the Houthi rebels, who are Shiite and backed by Iran, announced that they had aimed 14 drones at Saudi cities. 

Yemen has now been in a state of civil war for seven years. In 2015, Houthi rebels forced the government to resign, and ever since have controlled Sana’a and large parts of northern Yemen. The rebels have been launching cross-border attacks against Saudi Arabia since March 2015, when the Saudi-led coalition first intervened in Yemen’s civil war. At the moment, the Houthi movement is conducting an offensive in Marib, the government’s last stronghold in northern Yemen.

The coalition claims that its attacks are in compliance with the principle of self-defence as laid out under international law. Prior to the bombing, the coalition also allegedly asked civilians to keep out of the targeted areas. The coalition claims it is only targeting ‘secret ballistic missile sites’ and asserted that it destroyed a ‘high value ballistic missile target’ in the Thahban neighbourhood, in the north of Sana’a. These considerations are being cited by the coalition to argue that the attacks were carried out in compliance with International Humanitarian Law (IHL). 

Sana’a residents told Reuters that there were big explosions in northern neighbourhood and apparently two sites were bombed. Despite the precautionary measures allegedly taken by the coalition, several civilians have been killed or injured as a consequence of the airstrikes. Furthermore, attacks have damaged several residential homes and a factory. The United Nations warned that the Yemeni Civil War’s death toll might reach 377,000 by the end of the year. In addition to its high number of casualties, around 40,000 people have been forced to flee to Marib since September 2021, UNHCR reports. This combination of on-going violence, mass displacement, high casualty figures, and political instability has led the UN to characterize the situation in Yemen as the greatest humanitarian disaster in the world today. 


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Author: Lorena Bisignano; Editor: Alexander Collin



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