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10 Mar, 2017 20:11

Over 20 dead in airstrike on market in Yemen (GRAPHIC VIDEO)

More than 20 people have reportedly been killed in a Saudi-led coalition airstrike on a marketplace in the town of Al Hudaydah in Yemen. Graphic footage obtained by RT’s Ruptly agency appears to show debris and bodies burning in the aftermath of the bombing.

Earlier, medics told an RT stringer that at least 17 people have died warning that the death toll may rise to over two dozen. More than 12 people were injured.


According to AFP, 26 people, including 20 civilians and 6 Houthi rebel fighters, were killed in the airstrike.

The militants allegedly fled to the market to escape the bombardment, but were still targeted by the warplanes.

A military source close to Saudi-backed President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi told AFP that the rebels used civilians as "human shields."

Al-Masirah TV channel, controlled by the Houthis, reported that 27 people were killed and dozens wounded in the attack.

The Red Sea port of Al Hudaydah is Yemen’s fourth-largest city, with a population of around 400,000, located in the west of the country.

Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia has headed an international military coalition carrying out an unrelenting campaign of airstrikes against the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Riyadh and its allies have been accused of war crimes by humanitarian groups after their airstrikes hit residential areas and public gatherings on numerous occasions.

READ MORE: UN panel finds Saudi strikes in Yemen may amount to war crimes

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported in October that the Saudi coalition, “with direct military support from the US and assistance from the UK,” conducted at least 58 “unlawful airstrikes.”

In late February, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, said that around 10,000 people have been killed in the country since Saudi Arabia intervened, with 7 million people close to starvation.

According to World Health Organization figures, more than 7,400 people have been killed, with around 1,400 of them being children.

The UN Security Council on Friday convened for a report by UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien on the humanitarian situation in a number of countries, including Yemen.

O’Brien said that, with regard to Yemen, “only a political solution will ultimately end human suffering and bring stability to the region.”

Vladimir Safronkov, Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, said that “the settlement of the conflict in Yemen lies exclusively in political realm and can be achieved only through negotiations in accordance with a balanced and mutually acceptable settlement plan.”

Safronkov argued that the continuation of the military conflict in the country plays into the hands of international terrorism.

“The only clear beneficiaries of the conflict in Yemen are Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL), Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and if we speak about Somalia, it serves only the interests of Ash-Shabaab and other terrorist and extremists groups, controlling whole districts in the country’s south and east.”

‘900 civilians killed in unlawful airstrikes’

Ahmed Benchemsi, communications and advocacy director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), Middle East & North Africa, told RT that the humanitarian situation in Yemen is “increasingly unsustainable” and the urgent action must be taken by both sides in the conflict to stop the country plunging further into a “deep humanitarian catastrophe” as the situation “cannot continue like this for very long.”

Accusing both the Saudi-led military coalition and Houti rebels of committing “war crimes” during ongoing hostilities, Benchemsi, however, noted that “the majority of casualties are due to the airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition,” citing UN data.

“We ourselves, at Human Rights Watch, were able to document 61 apparent unlawful airstrikes, all conducted by the coalition, some of which may amount indeed to war crimes and that have killed nearly 900 civilians and have hit civilian areas, including markets, schools, hospitals and private homes,” he said.

He called on western powers, who are continuing to supply Saudi Arabia with weapons despite the damning evidence of its human rights violations in Yemen, to immediately halt deliveries.

“We clearly recommend that the United States, the United Kingdom, France and others should suspend all weapons sales to Saudi Arabia until  they curtail their unlawful airstrikes in Yemen and until also a credible investigation is conducted about those violations," the HRW representative said, adding that previous investigations conducted by the coalition do not appear to HRW to be “fair or credible.”

Benchemsi also slammed the blockade “organized by the Saudi-led coalition” and “in some areas” by the rebels that hinder the access to humanitarian aid by the civilian population, of which 80 percent depend on international aid in to various extent.

READ MORE: Put Saudi-led coalition back on UN list of child rights abusers, HRW says

"Both sides are responsible for the difficulty to get to these civilian populations and bring them the first aid that they need,” he said.