Air raids in northern Yemen have killed as many as nine children, a United Nations official said, making it the third such attack with significant child deaths in the rebel-controlled region this month.
Lise Grande, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, said in a statement on Friday a group of mostly women and children were hit while they were travelling by road the previous day.
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She said the attack was “shocking and completely, totally unacceptable”.
The health ministry for the Houthi rebels, who control the area where the attack happened, said on Thursday the Saudi-led military coalition supporting Yemen’s government conducted six air raids in the mountainous northern Yemeni province of Jawf.
It said an early count indicated more than 20 dead, mostly women and children.
Limited access to Houthi-controlled areas for aid workers and journalists often makes details of attacks difficult to confirm.
‘Seriously looking into’
A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, Turki al-Maliki, told the Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat on Friday the coalition was “seriously looking into” the recent allegations of civilian casualties.
The military alliance, which has been at war with the Houthi rebels for years, has drawn international criticism for errant air raids that have hit schools, hospitals and wedding parties, killing thousands of civilians.
On July 14, the UN reported an air raid in Hajjah province killed seven children, some as young as two years old.
The next day, the Houthi rebels and aid workers reported an air raid by the coalition hit a celebration in Jawf for a newborn boy’s circumcision, killing at least 10 civilians, including six children and two women.
Yemen’s conflict erupted late in 2014 when the Iran-aligned Houthis swept across much of the north and seized the capital, Sanaa, forcing the internationally-recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi into exile.
The following year, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states formed a coalition to fight the Houthis in what they said was an effort to stop Iran’s growing sway in Yemen.
The conflict has killed more than 100,000 people and created the world’s worst humanitarian disaster, with more than three million people internally displaced and two-thirds of the population relying on food aid for survival.