Air strikes in Yemen have killed 40 people in a market northeast of the capital Sanaa, residents say.

Saturday's air strikes in the Nehm district in Sanaa province wounded 30 others, they told Reuters news agency, adding that most of the casualties were civilians.

The attack hit Khulaqa market, which is known for selling qat, a mild narcotic that is chewed throughout Yemen, witnesses said.

Residents said the strikes were carried out by the Arab coalition, a force assembled by Saudi Arabia.

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The Arab coalition has yet to comment on the report.

The coalition is battling the Houthis and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh in a bid to restore the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Coalition-backed loyalists have been advancing in Nehm against the rebels as they try to close in on Sanaa.

The UN says nearly 6,000 people have been killed in the fighting, which began after the Houthis advanced on the southern port city of Aden, where Hadi had been based.

Hundreds of thousands have been displaced.

The coalition launched in late March 2015 an air campaign against the rebels. Saudi Arabia sees the Houthis as a proxy for Iran, its main regional adversary.

The Houthis and Saleh accuse the coalition of launching a war of aggression.

Rights groups have repeatedly urged the coalition to avoid causing civilian casualties.


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Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch, the monitoring group, accused the coalition of using US-supplied cluster bombs.

The coalition last month announced that an independent inquiry would examine charges of possible abuses against civilians in the conflict.

A panel of UN experts says the coalition has carried out 119 sorties that violated humanitarian law, and called for an international probe.

 

The Houthi-led rebels have controlled Sanaa since September 2014 and had placed Hadi under house arrest.

But he escaped, intially seeking refuge in Yemen's second city, Aden, last year before fleeing to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, as the rebels advanced on the southern port.

Hadi returned to the southern city after the loyalists, backed by the coalition, drove the rebels out of Aden and four other southern provinces.

But Hadi and senior officials continue to spend most of their time in Riyadh against a backdrop of worsening security in Aden, the temporary base of the government.


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Donors at a conference in Qatar pledged on Wednesday $220m of aid to Yemen.

Hadi's government accused this week Lebanon's Hezbollah of sending fighters to support the Houthis, saying it had evidence of the Shia group's involvement.

Also on Saturday, the UAE, a key member of the Arab coalition, said one of its soldiers died in Yemen when his military vehicle overturned.

The UAE has lost more than 70 soldiers in Yemen since the launch of the coalition campaign.

Source: Agencies