Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen

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Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen
Part of the Yemeni Civil War and the Yemeni Crisis
Air strike in Sana'a 11-5-2015.jpg
An airstrike in Sana'a on 11 May 2015
Yemeni Civil War.svg
The military situation in Yemen on 12 February 2017.
(Note that Houthi forces also control border areas in Saudi Arabia not shown on the map.)
  Controlled by Houthi (Ansar Allah) and Saleh loyalists
  Controlled by Hadi loyalists
  Controlled by Al-Qaeda/Ansar al-Sharia forces
(See also a detailed map)
Date 26 March 2015 – ongoing
(2 years, 6 months and 1 day)
  • Operation Decisive Storm
    26 March – 21 April 2015
    (3 weeks and 6 days)
  • Operation Restoring Hope
    22 April 2015 – present
    (2 years, 5 months and 5 days)
Location Yemen
Status

Ongoing

  • Saudi-led coalition restored the government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi in Aden.
  • Saudi-led coalition continue offensive to retake Yemeni capital Sana'a from Houthis
Belligerents

Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia[1][2]
United Arab Emirates UAE[3]
 Bahrain[3]
 Kuwait[3]
 Qatar (until 2017)[3]
 Egypt[3][4]
 Jordan[3]
 Morocco[3]
 Senegal[5]
 Sudan[3]
Supported by:
 United States[6][7][8]

 United Kingdom (intelligence, logistical support, weapons, and blockade)[12][13]
 Canada (weapons)[14]
 Turkey[15]
 China (weapon sales)[16][17]
 Germany (weapons sales)[18]
Logistical Support:
 Djibouti[19]
 Eritrea
 Somalia[20]
 France[21][22][23]


In support of:
Yemen Yemen
(Hadi government)

Non-state co-belligerents:

 Yemen
(Revolutionary Committee/Supreme Political Council)

Alleged support:
 Iran[29]
Hezbollah[30]
Commanders and leaders

Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud
Saudi Arabia Lt. Gen. Muhammad Al Shaalan [31][32]
Saudi Arabia Maj. Gen. Abdulrahman bin Saad al-Shahrani [33]
Saudi Arabia Brig. Gen. Ahmad Asiri
Saudi Arabia Brig. Gen. Ibrahim Hamzi [34]
Saudi Arabia Col. Abdullah al-Sahian [35]
Saudi Arabia Col. Hassan Ghasoum Ageeli [36]
Saudi Arabia Lt. Col. Abdullah al-Balwi [37]
United Arab Emirates Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan
United Arab Emirates Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan
United Arab Emirates Col. Mohammed Ali al-Kitbi [35]
United Arab Emirates/Australia Cmdr. Mike Hindmarsh[38]
Kuwait Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah
Bahrain Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
Bahrain Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa (WIA)[39]
Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani
Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
Sudan Omar al-Bashir
Jordan Abdullah II
Morocco Mohamed VI
Senegal Macky Sall


Yemen Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi
Yemen Mahmoud al-Subaihi (POW)
Yemen Gen. Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar[40]

Yemen Gen. Abd Rabbo Hussein [41]
Yemen Gen. Ahmad Seif Al-Yafei  [42]
Yemen Maj. Gen. Abdul-Rab al-Shadadi [43]
Yemen Brig. Gen. Hameed al-Qushaibi [44]
Yemen Cmdr. Jarallah Salhi [45]
Yemen Capt. Zafir Mansour Ahmed Al-Turki [46]

Yemen Mohammed Ali al-Houthi (2015–2016)
Yemen Saleh Ali al-Sammad (from 2016)
Yemen Mohamed al-Atafi (from 2016)
Yemen Hussein Khairan (2015–2016)
Yemen Sharaf Luqman[47]
Yemen Ali Al-Jaifi[48]
Yemen Hussein al-Ezzi

Yemen Abdul Razzaq Al-Marwani
Yemen Abu Ali al-Hakim
Yemen Ali Abdullah Saleh
Yemen Ali Raymi 
Yemen Ahmed Ali Saleh[49]
Abdul-Malik al-Houthi
Ibrahim Badr Al-Houthi [50]
Abdullah Qayed al-Fadeea [51]
Maj. Gen. Hasan Abdullah Almalsi [52]
Strength

Saudi Arabia 100 warplanes and 150,000 troops[53]
United Arab Emirates 30 warplanes, one brigade and 1,800 mercenaries from Latin America[54][55]
Bahrain 15 warplanes[55] 300 troops[56]
Kuwait 15 warplanes[55]
Qatar 10 warplanes, 1,000 troops[55][57]
Egypt 4 warships,[58] 800 troops[59] and
warplanes[60]
Jordan 6 warplanes[55]
Morocco 6 warplanes, 1,500 troops[55][61]
Senegal 2,100 troops[5]
Sudan 4 warplanes and 6,000 troops[62][63]

Total: 10,000+ troops (8 September 2015)[64]

150,000–200,000 fighters[65]
200,000–250,000

Casualties and losses

Saudi Arabia 441 soldiers killed[66][a][67][68][69]
10 captured;[70][71]
2 warplanes crashed;[72][73]
7 helicopters lost[66][74][75][76][77][78]
20 M1A2S lost[79]
1 frigate damaged[80]
United Arab Emirates 95 soldiers killed[81][82][83]
1 Mirage 2000 & other plane lost[84]
3 helicopters lost[85][82]
1 HSV-2 Swift lost[86]
Bahrain 8 soldiers killed[87]
1 F-16 crashed[88]
Qatar 4 soldiers killed[89]
Sudan 29 soldiers killed, 22+ wounded[90][91]
Morocco 1 soldier killed[92]
1 F-16 shot down[93][92]
Jordan1 F-16 lost[94]
16 foreign mercenaries killed[95] (1 Argentina[95] 1 Australia[96] 1 United Kingdom[97][98] 10 Colombia[97][98] 1 France[99] 1 Mexico[95] 1 Australia[96]


Yemen 134 soldiers killed and 292 wounded (friendly fire)[100][101][102][103][104]
164 soldiers killed[105][106][107]

Total: 875 killed
at least 296 killed (as of July 2015)[108][109][110][111]

12,907 civilians killed(Including 1,980 women and 2,768 children) According to the Legal Center for Rights and Developement.[112]
10,000+ Yemeni civilians killed [113][114][115]
500+ Saudi civilians killed on the Saudi-Yemen border[116][117]


a 400 killed officially,[67] over 3,000 killed according to The Independent[118]

A military intervention was launched by Saudi Arabia in 2015, leading a coalition of nine African and Middle East countries, to influence the outcome of the Yemeni Civil War in favour of the government of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Code-named Operation Decisive Storm (Arabic: عملية عاصفة الحزم‎‎ `Amaliyyat `Āṣifat al-Ḥazm), the intervention initially consisted of a bombing campaign on Houthi Rebels and later saw a naval blockade and the deployment of ground forces into Yemen.[119][55][120][121] The Saudi-led coalition has attacked the positions of the Houthi militia and loyalists of the former President of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, allegedly supported by Iran (Saudi Arabia and the United States claim, denied by Iran, see Iran–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict), in response to a request from the internationally-recognized but domestically opposed government of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.[122][123]

Fighter jets and ground forces from Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Academi mercenaries also took part in the operation. Djibouti, Eritrea and Somalia made their airspace, territorial waters and military bases available to the coalition.[20] The United States provided intelligence and logistical support, including aerial refueling and search-and-rescue for downed coalition pilots.[6][124] It also accelerated the sale of weapons to coalition states.[125] US and Britain have deployed their military personnel in the command and control centre responsible for Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen, having access to lists of targets.[126][127][128] Pakistan was called on by Saudi Arabia to join the coalition, but its parliament voted to maintain neutrality.[129] On 21 April 2015, the Saudi-led military coalition announced an end to Operation Decisive Storm, saying the intervention's focus would "shift from military operations to the political process".[130][131][132] The kingdom and its coalition partners said they would be launching political and peace efforts, which they called Operation Restoring Hope (Arabic: عملية إعادة الأمل‎‎ `Amaliyyat 'I`ādat al-'Amal). However, the coalition did not rule out using force, saying it would respond to threats and prevent Houthi militants from operating within Yemen.[132] Qatar is now not allowed to be a part of the team, because of the current crisis.[133]

The war has received widespread criticism and had a dramatic worsening effect on the humanitarian situation, that reached the level of a "humanitarian disaster"[13] or "humanitarian catastrophe".[134][135][136] After the Saudi-led coalition declared the entire Saada Governorate a military target, the UN's Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen and Human Rights Watch said that air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition on Saada city in Yemen were in breach of international law.[137][138] On 1 July UN declared for Yemen a "level-three" emergency – the highest UN emergency level – for a period of six months.[139][140] Human rights groups repeatedly blamed the Saudi-led military coalition for killing civilians and destroying health centers and other infrastructure with airstrikes.[141] The de facto blockade left 78% (20 million) of the Yemeni population in urgent need of food, water and medical aid. Aid ships are allowed, but the bulk of commercial shipping, on which the country relies, is blocked.[142] In one occasion, coalition jets prevented an Iranian Red Crescent plane from landing by bombing Sana'a International Airport's (SIA) runway, which blocked aid delivery via air.[143] As of 10 December, more than 2,500,000 people had been internally displaced by the fighting.[144] Many countries evacuated more than 23,000 foreign citizens from Yemen.[145][146][147] More than 1,000,000 people fled Yemen for Saudi Arabia,[148] Djibouti, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan and Oman.[147]

Background

Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, running unopposed for president, won the 2012 Yemeni elections.[149] The Houthis (or Ansar Allah), a Zaidi Shia movement and militant group thought to be backed by Iran, took control of the Yemeni government through a series of actions in 2014 and 2015. Saudi Arabia and other countries denounced this as an unconstitutional coup d'état.[150]

In military operations on the ground, the Houthis were supported by sections of the Yemeni armed forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was removed from power as part of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.[151][152] Houthi leaders claimed[153] that Saudi Arabia was trying to break the alliance between the Houthis and Saleh's supporters; reports[153] claimed that Saleh's son Ahmed Ali Saleh had traveled to the Saudi capital to attempt to broker a deal to end the airstrikes. Saudi media claim that Saleh or his son had approached Riyadh seeking such a deal.[154]

By September 2014, Houthi fighters captured Sana'a, toppling Hadi's government. Soon after, a peace deal (known as the Peace and Partnership Agreement) was concluded between the Hadi government and the Houthis, but was not honored by either party. The deal was drafted with the intent of defining a power-sharing government. A conflict over a draft constitution resulted in the Houthis consolidating control over the Yemeni capital in January 2015. After resigning from his post alongside his prime minister and remaining under virtual house arrest for one month, Hadi fled to Aden in southern Yemen in February.[155][156] Upon arriving in Aden, Hadi withdrew his resignation, saying that the actions of the Houthis from September 2014 had amounted to a "coup" against him.[157][158][159] By 25 March, forces answering to Sana'a were rapidly closing in on Aden, which Hadi had declared to be Yemen's temporary capital.[160]

During the Houthis' southern offensive, Saudi Arabia began a military buildup on its border with Yemen.[161] In response, a Houthi commander boasted that his troops would counterattack against any Saudi aggression and would not stop until they had taken Riyadh, the Saudi capital.[162]

On 25 March, Hadi called on the UN Security Council to authorise "willing countries that wish to help Yemen to provide immediate support for the legitimate authority by all means and measures to protect Yemen and deter the Houthi aggression".[163]

Yemen's foreign minister, Riad Yassin, requested military assistance from the Arab League on 25 March, amid reports that Hadi had fled his provisional capital.[164][165] On 26 March, Saudi state TV station Al-Ekhbariya TV reported that Hadi arrived at a Riyadh airbase and was met by Saudi Defense Minister Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud. His route from Aden to Riyadh was not immediately known.[122]

At a summit of the Arab League held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, on 28–29 March, President Hadi again repeated his calls for international intervention in the fighting. A number of League members pledged their support to Hadi's government during that meeting.[166][167]

Operation Decisive Storm

According to the Saudi news outlet Al Arabiya, Saudi Arabia contributed 100 warplanes and 150,000 soldiers to the military operation. Reuters indicated that planes from Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain were taking part.[168][169]

The UAE contributed 30 fighter jets, Kuwait sent 15 (understood to be three squadrons of F/A-18 Hornet aircraft),[170] Bahrain sent 15, Qatar 10, Jordan and Morocco six each and Sudan four.[55][63][171]

The operation was declared over on 21 April 2015.[172]

Air campaign

March 2015

In a joint statement, the member-states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (with the exception of Oman) said they had decided to intervene against the Houthis at the request of Hadi's government.[173]

The coalition declared Yemeni airspace to be a restricted area, with King Salman declaring the RSAF to be in full control of the zone.[55] Saudi Arabia began airstrikes, reportedly relying on US intelligence reports and surveillance images to select and hit targets, including weapons, aircraft[174] on the ground and air defences.[175] Al Jazeera reported that Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a Houthi commander appointed in February as president of the Revolutionary Committee, was injured and three other Houthi commanders were killed by airstrikes in Sana'a.[176]

In March 2015, from 13 to 18[177] civilians were killed in a residential neighborhood near Al-Dulaimi Airbase after airstrikes destroyed seven homes.[177][178]

Strikes on 26 March also hit Al Anad Air Base, a former U.S. special operations forces facility in Lahij Governorate seized by Houthis earlier in the week.[179] The targets reportedly included the Houthi-controlled missile base in Sana'a and its fuel depot.[3] Strikes overnight also targeted Houthis in Taiz and Sa'dah. Thousands demonstrated in Sana'a against the intervention, which ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh also condemned. Thousands came out supporting Hadi and Saudi Arabia.[180]

The scope of strikes expanded further on 27 March, with a radar installation in the Ma'rib Governorate and an airbase in the Abyan Governorate coming under air attack. The commander of the operation dismissed reports of civilian casualties, saying airstrikes were being carried out with precision.[181]

Additional strikes early in the morning on 28 March hit targets in Al Hudaydah, Sa'dah and the Sana'a area, as well as Ali Abdullah Saleh's main base. Rumours indicated Saleh fled to Sanhan, on the outskirts of the Houthi-controlled capital.[182] More strikes destroyed part of a Houthi convoy of tanks, armoured vehicles and trucks heading from Shuqrah toward Aden.[183] An Aden government official said Saudi strikes destroyed a long-range missile facility controlled by the Houthis.[184]

The Houthis claimed to have shot down a Sudanese Air Force plane over northern Sana'a and captured its pilot on 28 March. The Sudanese government denied that any of its four warplanes had come under fire or been shot down.[63] On the previous day, the Houthis claimed to have shot down a "hostile" Saudi drone in Sana'a.[185]

Airstrikes hit an arms depot, military airbase and special forces headquarters in Sana'a early on 29 March. A weapons depot outside Sana'a was destroyed, causing damage to an airport and planes on the ground. Sa'dah and Al Hudaydah were targeted as well. Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri, the coalition's spokesman, said Saudi artillery and Apache attack helicopters were mobilised to "deter" Houthi fighters massing on the border with Saudi Arabia.[186]

On 30 March, at least 40 people including children were killed and 200 were injured[187] by an airstrike that hit Al-Mazraq refugee camp near a military installation in northern district of Haradh, international organizations said. Airstrikes also hit areas near the presidential palace in Sana'a,[188] as well as Aden International Airport.[189]

During an Arab League summit, coalition states obtained permission from the Federal Government of Somalia to use its Berbera and Bosaso military bases, as well as Somali airspace and territorial waters.[190][191]

Food storage of Yemen Economic Corporation in Hodeidah was destroyed by three coalition strikes on 31 March.[192] Airstrikes were not limited to the Yemeni mainland. Missiles struck homes on the island of Perim, according to residents who fled by boat to Djibouti.[193]

April 2015

Destruction in Sana'a after air strike on 20 April 2015
Destruction in the residential neighborhoods near mountain Attan
Destroyed Shopping center

Dozens of casualties came from an explosion at a dairy and oil factory in Al Hudaydah, which was variously blamed on an airstrike or a rocket from a nearby military base on 1 April. Medical sources reported 25 deaths, while the Yemen Army said 37 were killed and 80 wounded.[194] Airstrikes also hit targets in Sa'dah on 1 April.[195]

In Ad Dali', the pro-Houthi 33rd Brigade of the Yemen Army was hit by repeated airstrikes. Its commander reportedly fled and the brigade disintegrated.[196]

Despite persistent airstrikes, Houthi and allied units continued to advance on central Aden, backed by tanks and heavy artillery.[197][198] Houthis seized the presidential palace on 2 April, but reportedly withdrew after overnight air raids early the next day.[199] Coalition planes also airdropped weapons and medical aid to pro-Hadi fighters in Aden.[200]

A family of nine was killed and other civilians wounded by an airstrike on Okash village near Sana'a on 4 April.[201]

The International Committee of the Red Cross announced on 5 April that it had received permission from the coalition to fly medical supplies and aid workers into Sana'a and was awaiting permission to send a surgical team by boat to Aden. The coalition said it had set up a special body to coordinate aid deliveries to Yemen.[202]

On 6 April, airstrikes began before sunset and struck targets in western Sana'a, Sa'dah and the Ad Dali' Governorate, a supply route for Houthis in the Battle of Aden.[203]

Airstrikes on 7 April hit a Republican Guard base in the Ibb Governorate, injuring 25 troops. Yemeni sources claimed three children at a nearby school were killed by the attack,[204] while six were injured.[205]

The coalition hit arms depots in northern Aden on 8 April, causing three large explosions.[206]

The Parliament of Pakistan voted against military action on 10 April, despite a request from Saudi Arabia that it join the coalition.[207]

Airstrikes launched on 12 April, against the base of the 22nd Brigade of the Yemeni Republican Guard in the Taiz Governorate struck both the brigade and a nearby village inhabited by members of the Al-Akhdam minority community, killing eight civilians and injuring more than ten others.[208] On 17 April, both the GCC coalition's spokesman called by Saudi broadcaster Al-Ehkbariya TV and a commander of the pro-Hadi rebels on the ground said airstrikes had intensified, focusing on both Sana'a and Taiz.[209] One strike on the Republican Palace in Taiz killed 19 pro-Houthi gunmen.[210]

Ethnoreligious groups in 2002. Zaydi Shi'a followers make up between 35% and 42.1% of Muslims in Yemen.[211]

A combination of airstrikes and ground fighting in Daleh reportedly killed 17 Houthis and six separatist fighters on 19 April.[212] Airstrikes targeted a weapons depot in Sana'a on 20 April, but they reportedly missed. A Scud missile base in the Faj Attan district was hit. At least 46 were killed and hundreds more injured in the strikes on the capital, with a Yemeni television presenter among the dead.[213]

Naval role

Egypt and Saudi Arabia committed warships to support coalition operations.[214] Somalia offered its airspace and territorial waters.[20] Four Egyptian Navy vessels steamed toward the Gulf of Aden after operations began.[179] Riyadh requested access to Somali airspace and waters to carry out operations.[215] On 27 March, the Egyptian military said a squadron of Egyptian and Saudi warships took up positions at the Bab al-Mandab strait.[181] The Saudi military threatened to destroy any ship attempting to make port.[216]

A F-15S facing a mechanical issue crashed in the Gulf of Aden, both Saudi pilots were rescued by a United States Air Force Pararescue unit from Camp Lemonnier on 27 March.[217]

The Royal Saudi Navy evacuated diplomats and United Nations staff from Aden to Jeddah on 28 March.[183]

Witnesses told Reuters that Egyptian warships bombarded Houthi positions as they attempted to advance on Aden on 30 March.[218] Warships again fired on Houthi positions at Aden International Airport on or about 1 April.[195]

Djibouti foreign minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf said the Houthis placed heavy weapons and fast attack boats on Perim and a smaller island in the Bab al-Mandab strait. He warned that "the prospect of a war in the strait of Bab al-Mandab is a real one" and said the weapons posed "a big danger" to his country, commercial shipping traffic, and military vessels. He called on the coalition to clear the islands, which he said included missiles and long-range cannons.[219]

On 4 April, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi called protecting Red Sea shipping and securing the Bab al-Mandab "a top priority for Egypt's national security".[220]

On 15 April, coalition spokesman Saudi Brigadier General Ahmed Al-Asiri, said that the its warships were focusing on protecting shipping routes and screening ships heading to port for shipments intended for the Houthis.[221]

The US Navy provided support to the naval blockade, halting and searching vessels suspected of carrying Iranian arms to the Houthis.[222] On 21 April, the United States announced it was deploying warships to Yemeni waters to monitor Iranian ships.[223] The US in particular noted a convoy of Iranian vessels, which US authorities said could potentially be carrying weapons to Houthi fighters in contravention of UN sanctions.[224] The US reported that the Iranian convoy reversed course on 23 April.[225]

Ground clashes

Sudan said it was stationing ground troops in SA.[226] The Special Forces of the Bahrain Defence Force, Taskforce 11, were also deployed to Yemen.[227]

Between 31 March and April, Saudi and Houthi forces reportedly traded artillery and rocket fire across the border between SA and Yemen.[189][228] A Saudi border guard was killed on 2 April, the campaign's first confirmed coalition casualty.[229] Followed by another two soldiers killed the next day.[230] Two Egyptian truck drivers died by Houthi artillery shelling.[231]

SA reportedly began removing sections of the Saudi–Yemen barrier fence along its border with the Sa'dah and Hajjah governorates on 3 April. The purpose of the removal was not immediately clear.[232]

On 12 April, members of the Takhya tribe launched an attack on a Saudi base after several of its members died in an airstrike. Weapons and ammunition were taken.[233][234][235]

On 19 April, as Houthi leader Abdul-Malek El-Houthi accused SA of planning to invade Yemen,[236] Asiri claimed that coalition forces had information regarding a planned Houthi incursion into SA.[237] A Saudi border guard died on 19 April and two others were injured from gunfire and mortar shelling across the border.[238]

Operation Restoring Hope

King Salman of Saudi Arabia and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in September 2015

On 21 April, the Saudi Defence Ministry declared it was ending the campaign of airstrikes because it had "successfully eliminated the threat" to its security posed by Houthi ballistic and heavy weaponry.[239] It announced the start of a new phase codenamed Operation Restoring Hope.[240] In a televised address, Hadi said the end of airstrikes had come at his request and thanked the Arab coalition for their support.[241]

Earlier that day King Salman ordered the Saudi National Guard to join the military operation.[242] Air and naval strikes continued despite the announcement that Decisive Storm had ended.

Both the Omani[243] and Iranian[241][244] governments said they welcomed the end of airstrikes. On 22 April, Oman presented a seven-point peace deal to both parties. The proposed peace treaty entailed the reinstatement of Hadi's government and the evacuation of Houthi fighters from major cities.[243]

On 8 May, Saudi Arabia announced a five-day ceasefire set to start on 12 May,[245] following heavy pressure from the US.[246] Later in the day, Saudi airplanes dropped leaflets in the Saada Governorate warning of airstrikes throughout the area.[247] Houthi spokesman Mohamed al-Bukhaiti later told the BBC that the ceasefire had not been formally proposed and the Houthis would not respond until a plan was properly laid out.[248] A spokesman for the Houthi-aligned military announced agreement to the ceasefire plan on 10 May, although he warned that a breach of the truce would prompt a military response.[249]

On 13 May, humanitarian agencies said they were trying to get aid into Yemen after a five-day ceasefire took effect on Tuesday night. Ships carrying humanitarian supplies docked at the Houthi-controlled Red Sea port of Hudaydah as planes were standing by to help evacuate the injured.[250] Meanwhile, King Salman doubled his country's Yemen aid pledge to $540 million, funds the UN said would "meet the life-saving and protection needs of 7.5 million people affected".[251]

Airstrikes

UAEAF F16F Block 60 taking off from a military base to conduct airstrikes on Houthi targets.

At the operation's announcement, coalition leadership stressed that their campaign would attempt a political solution and that they would continue the air and naval blockade.[252] However, airstrikes resumed almost immediately following the coalition's announcement of the end of Operation Decisive Storm.[253]

On 22 April airstrikes continued in Taiz, where an army base was hit shortly after Houthi fighters took it over,[254] and Aden, where an airstrike targeted Houthi tanks moving into a contested district,[255] among other locations, such as Al Hudaydah and Ibb.[256] The Houthis continued to fight for territory,[254] with a Houthi spokesman saying the group would be prepared for peace talks on the condition of "a complete halt of attacks". The previous round of UN-sponsored talks collapsed after Houthi rebels attacked Hadi's residence in Sana'a.[257]

By 26 April, coalition forces were striking what they described as Houthi military targets in Sana'a and Aden and in other locations, notably in Sa'ada province near the Saudi border, nearly every night.[258][259] On 26 April, after midnight, airstrikes struck Houthi and pro-Saleh positions and targets in and around Sana'a, Aden, and the Ma'rib and Ad Dali' governorates, backing up anti-Houthi fighters in the latter three locations, with more than 90 rebels reportedly killed.[260] Coalition warships shelled fighters near Aden's commercial port. Saudi warplanes also targeted Houthis in the Sa'dah Governorate, while Saudi artillery fired on targets in the Hajjah Governorate along the border.[261] The Saudi National Guard was deployed on the border.[262]

On 28 April, Sana'a International Airport was bombed[263] by Saudi F-15 fighters to prevent an Iranian plane[264] belonging to Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) from landing, while it was approaching to land. The fighters had warned the plane to turn back, in an unsuccessful attempt to thwart its landing, but the Iranian pilot ignored the "illegal warnings", saying that, on the basis of international law, his plane did not need further permission to land.[265]

On the night of 6 May 2015, the Saudi-led coalition carried out 130 airstrikes in Yemen in a 24-hour period. At first, coalition spokesperson Ahmed Asiri admitted that schools and hospitals were targeted but claimed that these were used as weapon storage sites. Asiri later claimed that his words had been mistranslated. The United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Yemen Johannes Van Der Klaauw said that these bombings constituted a war crime. "The indiscriminate bombing of populated areas, with or without prior warning, is a contravention international humanitarian law," he said. He continued to say that he was particularly concerned about airstrikes on Saada "where scores of civilians were reportedly killed and thousands were forced to flee their homes after the coalition declared the entire governate a military target".[266]

Saudi foreign minister Adel Al-Jubeir announced a five-day ceasefire in Yemen, 8 May 2015

The Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the Saudi chargé d'affaires, and the Iranian Parliament and the Iranian Red Crescent Society blasted Saudi Arabia for blocking Iranian humanitarian aid.[267][268]

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) "strongly urged" the coalition to stop targeting airports and seaports so that aid could reach all Yemenis.[269][270]

ICRC and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said they were extremely concerned about damage to the airports at Sanaa and the port city of Hodeidah.[269]

Overnight on 29 and 30 April, SA was reported to have airdropped arms to anti-Houthi fighters in Taiz.[271] Later in the day, the Houthi's announced the death of 1 soldier due to airstrikes on the local police station in Al Bayda, Yemen.[272]

On 30 April airstrikes hit five provinces.[271] New airstrikes hit SIA, completely halting aid deliveries.[273]

Intense airstrikes on the Al Amar area of the As Safra District killed 1 Yemeni soldier and injured 6 others. Source also reported that there were several airstrikes on farms and buildings in the Sahar District.[274][unreliable source?]

An airstrike in Sana'a,
11 May 2015

On 6 May coalition airstrikes targeted the Police Training Center in the Dhamar Governorate, damaging nearby houses[275] meanwhile the civil aviation authority announced it would re-open the airport to receive aid.[276]

Coalition airstrikes targeted the houses of Saleh in Sana'a in the early hours of 10 May, eyewitnesses said. Khabar, a Yemeni news agency allied with Saleh said that the former president and his family were unharmed.[277]

The Moroccan government said on 10 May that one of its General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft taking part in the air campaign went missing in action over Yemen, along with its pilot.[278] The Houthis claimed responsibility, with Yemeni state TV broadcasting a report on the jet being downed by tribal militias over the Sa'dah Governorate and showing images of the wreckage.[279]

On 18 May Saudi-led airstrikes reportedly resumed on Houthi positions after a humanitarian ceasefire expired late on Sunday. Three coalition airstrikes hit Sa'ada on Monday. Yemen's exiled Foreign Minister Riyadh Yassin blamed the rebel group for the renewal of hostilities. Al-Arabiya said Saudi forces shelled Houthi outposts along Yemen's northern border after the fighters fired mortars at a Saudi army post in Najran province.[280]

On 23 May OCHA reported that airstrikes continued in the northern governorates of Sa'ada (Baqim, Haydan, Saqayn and As Safra) and Hajjah (Abs, Hayran, Haradh, Huth, Kuhlan Affar and Sahar districts). The road connecting Haradh and Huth districts was reportedly hit. Airstrikes were also reported in Al Jawf Governorate (Bart Al Anan district).[281]

On 27 May airstrikes hit a police station in the capital, Sana'a, killing 45 officers.[282] The Houthi-controlled Ministry of Health announced that in total, 96 people were killed.

On 3 June the residence of a Houthi leader in Ibb province was hit by an airstrike, according to eyewitnesses.[283]

Destruction in the south of Sana'a (12 June 2015)
Destroyed house
Destroyed car

On 12 June Saudi jets bombed the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sana'a Old City, killing at least six people and destroying some of the ancient buildings. UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova said in a statement that she is "profoundly distressed by the loss of human lives as well as by damage inflicted on one of the world's oldest jewels of Islamic urban landscape". Locals also condemned the action.[284]

On 23 September 2015, the Saudi-led coalition destroyed a ceramics factory in the town of Matnah. One civilian was killed and others were wounded. According to the BBC, the bomb is believed to have been produced in the United Kingdom by GEC-Marconi Dynamics.[285] The factory's owner Ghalib al-Sawary told the BBC: "We built it over 20 years but to destroy it took only twenty minutes."[286] Campaigners say this attack was a violation of the laws of war.

On 26 October 2015 Doctors Without Borders reported that a coalition airstrike had completely destroyed the Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Saada province's Haydan governorate, including the operating room. When the first strike hit an unused part of the hospital the facility was completely evacuated, so there were no direct casualties. However, a spokesman for the coalition forces, Brig-Gen Ahmed al-Asiri, disclaimed responsibility for the attack.[287] "With the hospital destroyed, at least 200,000 people now have no access to lifesaving medical care," MSF said. "This attack is another illustration of a complete disregard for civilians in Yemen, where bombings have become a daily routine," said Hassan Boucenine, MSF head of mission in Yemen. The GPS coordinates of the only hospital in the Haydan district were regularly shared with the Saudi-led coalition, and the roof of the facility was clearly identified with the MSF logo, he said.[288] UNICEF said the hospital in Saada was the 39th health center hit in Yemen since March, when the violence escalated. "More children in Yemen may well die from a lack of medicines and healthcare than from bullets and bombs," its executive director Anthony Lake said in a statement. He added that critical shortages of fuel, medication, electricity and water could mean many more will close. Amnesty International said the strike may amount to a war crime and called for an independent investigation.[289][290]

In February 2016, the Saudis bombed the ancient citadel of Kawkaban, killing seven civilians.[291]

On 8 October 2016, Saudi-led airstrikes targeted a hall in Sana'a where a funeral was taking place. At least 140 people were killed and about 600 were wounded. According to The Independent, one rescuer said: "The place has been turned into a lake of blood."[292] After initially denying it was behind the attack, the Coalition's Joint Incidents Assessment Team admitted that it had bombed the hall but claimed that this attack had been a mistake caused by bad information.[293] After this attack, US national security spokesperson said that the US government was "deeply disturbed" by the bombing and added that US support for the Saudi-led coalition was "not a blank cheque". He added "we have initiated an immediate review of our already significantly reduced support to the Saudi-led Coalition."[292] The United Nations humanitarian co-ordinator in Yemen Jamie McGoldrick said he was "shocked and outraged" by the "horrific" bombing. "This violence against civilians in Yemen must stop," he said.[292]

On the night of 15 February 2017, the Saudi-led coalition bombed a funeral reception near Sanaa. Initial reports suggest the bombing killed nine women and one child with ten more women reported wounded. "People heard the sound of planes and started running from the house but then the bombs hit the house directly. The roof collapsed and there was blood was everywhere," a resident of the village told a Reuters news agency cameraman.[294]

Aircraft losses

  • March 2015: Saudi F-15[295]
  • May 2015: Moroccan F-16[296] and a Saudi AH-64 Helicoper[297]
  • August 2015: Saudi AH-64[298]
  • September 2015: Saudi helicopter[299]
  • December 2015: Saudi helicopter [300] and a Bahrain F-16[301]
  • March 2016: UAE Mirage 2000[302]
  • June 2016: Two UAE helicopters[303]
  • July 2016: One Saudi AH-64 crashes in Marib province[304]
  • February 2017: Jordanian F-16[305]
  • March 2017: Saudi AH-64 (2 dead)[306]
  • April 2017: Saudi UH-60 (12 dead)[307]
  • August 2017: UAE helicopter (4 dead)[82]
  • August 2017: A US Blackhawk helicopter crashes on the Yemeni coast.[308]
  • September 2017: A UAE warplane crashed in Yemen, the pilot died in the crash.[81] A Saudi Airforce warplane crashed in Yemen during an operation against Al Qaeda militants.[73]

Cross-border fighting

On 25 April MSF said that the town of Haradh, close to the border with Saudi Arabia, had been left a ghost town and that Saudi shelling killed 11 and injured more than 70.[309]

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has joined the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Sudan had received a $2.2 billion from Saudi Arabia and Qatar in 2015.[310]

On 26 April the Saudi government announced that the first National Guard units had arrived in Najran, in southwestern Saudi Arabia near the border.[311] The same day, Al-Hamdan tribe attacked Saudi positions in Najran and reported several Saudi casualties with the Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry confirming 1 dead and 2 injured. Al-Hamdan tribesmen later retreated due to heavy bombings in the area.[312][313]

On 30 April one Saudi border guard had also been killed by mortar fire along the border with Yemen.[314] This death brought the total number of Saudi deaths reported by the Kingdom to 11. Later in the day, apparent Houthi forces attacked a Saudi military post in the Najran Region killing 3 soldiers, increasing the death toll to 14.[273]

In early May several dozen fighters arrived on the side of anti-Houthi defenders of Aden. The force was speculated to be advance ground troops from the coalition, but Hadi's foreign minister said they were Yemeni special forces troops retrained in Gulf Arab countries and redeployed to assist anti-Houthi militants.[315]

On 5 May pro-Houthi fighters reportedly captured 5 Saudi soldiers and fired mortar shells at the Saudi city of Najran and several other areas in the Saudi region of Jizan, killing at least 3 people. Yemeni tribal sources stated that only 2 Saudi civilians were killed, while the Saudi Ministry of Interior stated that 3 people were killed in Najran, although it did not clarify whether they were civilians.[316][317]

On 6 May the state-owned Saudi Press Agency said at least 7 more Saudis were killed as a result of two separate Houthi attacks on Najran and Jizan, bringing the total Saudi civilian death toll to at least 10.[318] Nobody claimed responsibility for the attacks.[319]

On 7 May the Houthi rebels reportedly brought down a Saudi Apache attack helicopter in Yemen.[320] The state Saudi Press Agency initially confirmed that the loss of an Apache attack helicopter along with its two pilots, stating they died "while performing their duty to protect the borders of the homeland".[78] The next day, AP confirmed the helicopter was shot down by the Houthis.[74]

Houthi fighters again struck Jizan and Najran with rockets and mortars on 11 May, in response to Saudi bombardment of the Sa'dah and Hajjah governorates. Saudi Arabia said the shelling killed one and injured three others, including two expatriates.[321]

On 11 May Saudi Arabia deployed a tank "strike force" to its southern border hours after Houthis fired 150 Katyusha rockets and mortars on Najran and Jizan. Hadath TV broadcast footage purportedly showing columns of military trucks carrying tanks heading towards the Kingdom's southern frontier.[322] The Houthis went on to repeatedly attack Jizan during 2015.[323][324][325]

On 27 May the Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry announced that 2 soldiers had been killed in a missile attack in the Asir region.[326]

On 6 June Houthi's fired a SCUD missile into SA, targeting the King Khaled air base. SA announced that it had shot down the missile.[327]

On the night of 8 July, an Arab Coalition bombing killed by error over 70 soldiers loyal to president Hadi. Another 200 were injured at the Hadramut province.[328]

On 14 October, A Scud missile attack was launched by Houthis towards a base in Asir Province, Saudi Arabia.[329]

Qaher-1 launching towards a Saudi target in Jizan province.

On 22 December 2015, a Qaher-1 missile attack was launched by Houthies towards an Oil company in Jizan, Saudi Arabia.[330]

On 19 February 2017 a ballistic missile from Yemen hit a power facility in Jizan.[331]

Ground combat

On 3 April, CNN cited an unnamed Saudi source who claimed that Saudi special forces were on the ground in and around Aden, "coordinating and guiding" the resistance.[332] The Saudi government officially declined to comment on whether it had special forces, with Saudi Ambassador to the United States Adel al-Jubeir saying on 2 April that Saudi Arabia had no "formal" troops in Aden.[232]

On 4 September a Houthi OTR-21 Tochka missile hit an ammunition dump at a military base in Safer in Ma'rib Governorate killing 52 UAE, 10 Saudi and 5 Bahraini soldiers. The Safer base was being built up by coalition forces for a push against Sanaa.[333][334][335] "It was the deadliest single attack on coalition soldiers since the start of its operation against Houthi rebels in March" Asseri said.[336] The attacked was the highest casualty loss in the history of the UAE military.[337] Qatar deployed 1000 troops to Yemen after the incident.[338]

By 8 September it was reported that the Saudi-led forces deployed in Yemen exceeded 10,000 troops and included 30 AH-64 Apache attack helicopters.[339]

On 14 December media reported an Houthi & Saleh Forces missile attack at a Saudi military camp south-west of the besieged city of Taiz,[340][341] while sources confirmed the killings of over 150 coalition soldiers including 23 Saudi troops, 9 UAE officers and soldiers, 7 Moroccan soldiers and 42 Blackwater troops.[342][343]

On 19 December 2015, reported clashes leaves over 40 Houthi Rebels and 35 Government Loyalist dead and dozens of wounded on both sides.[344]

Naval involvement

Estimated fuel needs in Yemen and monthly fuel imports[345][346][347][348]
100%
23%
1%
16%
46%
69%
19%
1%
11%
89%
15%
85%
Monthly needs
(544,000 t)
Mar
2015
Apr
2015
May
2015
Jun
2015
Jul
2015
Aug
2015
Sep
2015
Oct
2015
Nov
2015
Dec
2015
Jan
2016

Saudi Arabia faced growing criticism for the Saudi-led naval and air blockade, which effectively isolated the country.[349]

A "military source and pro-Hadi militiamen" told the AFP on 26 April that coalition warships were participating in the shelling of Aden.[350]

On 30 April, the Iranian navy announced it had deployed two destroyers to the Gulf of Aden to "ensure the safety of commercial ships of our country against the threat of pirates", according to a rear admiral.[351] According to the same source, the deployment was scheduled to last until mid-June. Iran's deputy foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, told state-run Tasnim News Agency that "others will not be allowed to put our shared security at risk with military adventures".[352]

Reports of war crimes

Airstrikes in Yemen apparently violating the laws of war (selection)
HRW investigation of 10 Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, that took place between 11 April and 30 August 2015. HRW found either no evident military target or the attack failed to distinguish civilians from military objectives, in apparent violation of the laws of war.[353]
date (in 2015) location / governorate objectives or targets struck civilians killed (at least) civilians
injured
men women children total
11 April Amran / Amran buildings in the town 1 2 1 4 1
12 May Abs / Hajjah Abs/Kholan Prison and other buildings in the town 21 1 3 25 18
12 May Zabid / Al Hudaydah Shagia market and lemon grove in the town 39 13 8 60 155
4 July Muthalith Ahim / Al Hudaydah marketplace in the village  ?  ? 3 65 105
6 July Amran 1. Bawn market between Amran und Raydah;
2. Jawb market outside the town
13 1 15 29 20
12 July Sana'a-Sawan / Sana'a muhamashee residential neighborhood 2 7 14 23 31 people
19 July Yarim / Ibb residential homes and buildings in the town 4 3 9 16 16
24 July Mokha / Taiz residential compound of Mokha Steam Power Plant 42 13 10 65 55
8 August Shara'a / Ibb homes in the village (Radhma district) 2 3 3 8 2
30 August Abs / Hajjah Al-Sham Water Bottling Factory in the outskirts of the town 11 3 14 11
civilian airstrike casualties for all 10 airstrikes, investigated by HRW (report of 26 November 2015) 309 414

On 13 April 2015, HRW wrote that some airstrikes were in apparent violation of the laws of war, such as the 30 March attack on a displaced-persons camp in Mazraq that struck a medical facility and a market.[354] Other incidents noted by HRW that had been deemed as indiscriminate or disproportionate or "in violation of the laws of war" were: a strike on a dairy factory outside the Red Sea port of Hodaida (31 civilian deaths);[355] a strike that destroyed a humanitarian aid warehouse of the international aid organization Oxfam in Saada;[356] and the coalition's blockade that kept out fuel.[357] On 30 June 2015, HRW reported that several airstrikes were in clear violation of international law. The report confirmed 59 (including 14 women and 35 children) civilian deaths in Saada between 6 April and 11 May. The report also highlighted attacks on 6 civilian homes as well as five markets that were deliberate attacks.[358]

In February 2016, Amnesty International (AI) reported that it had investigated the circumstances and impact of more than 30 air strikes of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces in Sana'a, Hodeidah, Hajjah and Sa'da. They believed that the coalition was intentionally striking civilian targets.[359] On 24 April 2015, Amnesty International said that airstrikes hit five densely populated areas (Sa'dah, Sana'a, Hodeidah, Hajjah and Ibb), and "raise concerns about compliance with the rules of international humanitarian law."[360][361] Their research indicates that there were at least 97 civilian deaths, including 33 children, and 157 civilians were wounded.[360]

According to Farea Al-Muslim, direct war crimes were committed during the conflict; for example, an IDP camp was hit by a Saudi airstrike, while Houthis sometimes prevented aid workers from giving aid.[362] The UN and human rights groups discussed the possibility that war crimes may have been committed by Saudi Arabia during the air campaign.[363]

U.S. Representative Ted Lieu has criticized the Saudi-led attacks on Yemen: "Some of these strikes look like war crimes to me, and I want to get answers as to why the U.S. appears to be assisting in the execution of war crimes in Yemen."[364]

In March 2017, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that "Since the start of the current conflict, at least 4,773 civilians had been killed and 8,272 wounded, the majority by coalition airstrikes .... Human Rights Watch has documented 62 apparently unlawful coalition airstrikes, some of which may amount to war crimes, that have killed nearly 900 civilians, and documented seven indiscriminate attacks by Houthi-Saleh forces in Aden and Taizz that killed 139 people, including at least eight children."[365]

Declaring the entire governorate Sa'ada a military target

On 8 May, a spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition declared the entire city of Sa'dah, with a population of around 50,000 people, was a military target. According to Human Rights Watch: "This not only violated the laws-of-war prohibition against placing civilians at particular risk by treating a number of separate and distinct military objectives as a single military target, but possibly also the prohibition against making threats of violence whose purpose is to instil terror in the civilian population."[366]

Human Rights Watch compiled the names and ages of some of the people killed in Saada City between 6 April and 11 May. Of the 59 people they found information on, 35 were children and 14 were women.[366] The organisation's analysis of air-strike locations in Sa'dah showed that bombs fell across the city including near markets, schools and hospitals.[366]

U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Johannes van der Klaauw, agreed that the Saud-led coalition's actions breached international humanitarian law.[137][138] "The indiscriminate bombing of populated areas, with or without prior warning, is in contravention of international humanitarian law," he said.[266] He added that he was concerned that "scores of civilians were reportedly killed and thousands were forced to flee their homes after the coalition declared the entire governate a military target."

Save the Children's Country Director in Yemen, Edward Santiago, said that the "indiscriminate attacks after the dropping of leaflets urging civilians to leave Sa'ada raises concerns about the possible pattern being established in breach of International Humanitarian Law. Warning civilians does not exonerate the coalition from their obligation to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, and we have seen in the last days that the warnings have not been enough to spare civilian lives. At the same time, people are largely unable to flee for safety because of the de facto blockade imposed by the coalition leading to severe fuel shortages."[367]

Attacks on facilities run by aid organizations

Since the Saudi-led coalition began military operations against Ansar Allah on 26 March 2015, Saudi-led coalition airstrikes unlawfully struck hospitals and other facilities run by aid organizations, according to Human Rights Watch.[368] Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) medical facilities in Yemen were attacked four times in three months.[369] On 26 October 2015, HRW documented six Saudi-led airstrikes which bombed a MSF hospital in Haydan district (Sa'dah Governorate), wounding two patients.[368][369][370] An Saudi-led coalition airstrike then hit a MSF mobile clinic on 2 December 2015, in Al Houban district (Taizz). Eight people were wounded, including two MSF staff members, and one other civilian nearby was killed. On 10 January 2016, six people were killed and seven wounded when a hospital in Sa'ada was hit by a projectile.[368][369] MSF said it could not confirm whether the hospital was hit in an air strike by warplanes of the Saudi-led coalition, or by a rocket fired from the ground, and at least one other landed nearby.[368][371] On 21 January 2016, an MSF ambulance was hit by an airstrike. Seven people were killed and dozens were wounded.[368][369]

MSF's director of operations Raquel Ayora said: "The way war is being waged in Yemen is causing enormous suffering and shows that the warring parties do not recognise or respect the protected status of hospitals and medical facilities. We witness the devastating consequences of this on people trapped in conflict zones on a daily basis. Nothing has been spared – not even hospitals, even though medical facilities are explicitly protected by international humanitarian law."[369]

The Saudi embassy in London, in early February 2016, advised United Nations and other aid organizations to move their offices and staff away from "regions where the Houthi militias and their supporters are active and in areas where there are military operations". It claimed this was in order to "protect the international organizations and their employees".[368] The UN refused to pull out the humanitarian aid workers and protested against the Saudi demands.[372][373] On 7 February 2016, the UN humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien wrote to Saudi Arabia's UN Ambassador Abdallah al-Mouallimi, pointing out that Saudi Arabia is obligated under international law to permit access, and has "duty of care obligations under the conduct of military operations for all civilians, including humanitarian workers".[368]

HRW declared, on 17 February 2016, that Saudi Arabia's warnings to stay away were insufficient to fulfil their legal obligations to protect aid stations and their occupants. James Ross, Legal and Policy Director at HRW, said: "A warning is no justification for an unlawful airstrike. They can't shift the blame for shirking their responsibility onto aid agencies that are struggling to address a deepening crisis."[368]

After an air-strike on an MSF hospital in the Hajjah province on 15 August 2016, MSF announced the pulling of their staff from Saada and Hajjah provinces affecting 6 facilities. The group also complained that the results of previous investigations into hospital bombings by the Saudi-led coalition were never shared.[374]

Usage of cluster munitions

In early May 2015, Human Rights Watch accused Saudi Arabia of using US-supplied cluster munitions on at least two occasions. The Saudi military acknowledged using CBU-105 bombs, but it claimed they were only employed against armoured vehicles and not in population centers.[375][376] Yemeni security officials claimed that cluster bombs were dropped in a civilian area of the Western suburbs of the Yemeni capital Sanaa. In an earlier statement, Saudi Arabia had denied that the Saudi-led military coalition was using cluster bombs at all.[291]

Internationally outlawed cluster bombs supplied by the USA were used by the Saudi-led military coalition and wounded civilians despite evidence of prior civilian casualties, based on multiple reports issued by HRW.[377][378][379][380][381]

On 8 January 2016, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced that Saudi coalition use of cluster munitions could be a war crime.[382][383] HRW condemned the Saudi-led coalition for the attacks saying: "The coalition's repeated use of cluster bombs in the middle of a crowded city suggests an intent to harm civilians, which is a war crime. These outrageous attacks show that the coalition seems less concerned than ever about sparing civilians from war's horrors."[384] A week later, Amnesty International published new evidence that appeared to confirm reports of coalition forces using US-made cluster munitions on Sana'a on 6 January 2016.[385]

In December 2016, a Saudi spokesperson admitted that at least some of the coalition's cluster bombs were manufactured in the United Kingdom. British prime minister Theresa May refused to answer when asked in parliament when she first became aware that UK-made cluster bombs were being used.[386]

Amnesty International has called on Saudi Arabia to destroy its stockpile of cluster bombs and accede to the International Convention on Cluster Munitions. It also asked the Saudi-led coalition to provide the United Nations with precise locations of cluster munition attacks.[387] The coalition has yet to do so.

Calls for international independent investigations

A UN panel of experts said in a report for the UN Security Council in January 2016, which was leaked to The Guardian, that the Saudi-led coalition had undertaken 119 sorties in Yemen that violated international humanitarian law.[382][388][389] The panel said it had "documented that the coalition had conducted airstrikes targeting civilians and civilian objects, in violation of international humanitarian law, including camps for internally displaced persons and refugees; civilian gatherings, including weddings; civilian vehicles, including buses; civilian residential areas; medical facilities; schools; mosques; markets, factories and food storage warehouses; and other essential civilian infrastructure, such as the airport in Sana'a, the port in Hudaydah and domestic transit routes". The report said: "Many attacks involved multiple airstrikes on multiple civilian objects. Of the 119 sorties, the panel identified 146 targeted objects. The panel also documented three alleged cases of civilians fleeing residential bombings and being chased and shot at by helicopters."[382][388] While the UN experts were not allowed on the ground in Yemen, they studied satellite imagery of cities before and after attacks, that showed "extensive damage to residential areas and civilian objects".[382][388][389] The UN panel concluded that "civilians are disproportionately affected" by the fighting and deplored tactics that "constitute the prohibited use of starvation as a method of warfare".[382][388] The report said: "The coalition's targeting of civilians through airstrikes, either by bombing residential neighbourhoods or by treating the entire cities of Sa'dah and Maran as military targets, is a grave violation of the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution. In certain cases, the panel found such violations to have been conducted in a widespread and systematic manner."[388] The report called for an international commission, set up by the Security Council, that should "investigate reports of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law in Yemen by all parties and to identify the perpetrators of such violations".[382][388] Saudi Arabia had previously objected to an inquiry being set up.[382]

Five days after the release of UN Panel of Experts report on Yemen, on 31 January 2016, the Saudi-led Arab coalition announced it had formed "an independent team of experts in international humanitarian law and weapons to assess the incidents and investigate the rules of engagement". The coalition said the objective was to "develop a clear and comprehensive report on each incident with the conclusions, lessons learned, recommendations and measures that should be taken" to spare civilians.[368][390]

On 16 February 2016, Adama Dieng, the U.N.'s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, and Jennifer Welsh, the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, said in a joint statement: "We now expect that commitments by the Yemeni authorities and by Saudi Arabia to conduct credible and independent investigations into all alleged violations and provide reparations to victims will be swiftly implemented. It is imperative that the international community also gives immediate consideration to the most effective means of supporting this goal, including the possibility of establishing an international independent and impartial mechanism to support accountability in Yemen."[391]

Alleged use of White Phosphorus

In September 2016, The Washington Post reported that Saudi Arabia "appears" to be using US-made white phosphorus munitions against Yemen, based on images and videos posted to social media. Under US regulations, white phosphorus is only allowed to be used to signal to other troops and to reduce visibility in open ground, creating a smoke-screen. It is not to be used to attack humans as it burns human flesh down to the bone, which is considered excessively cruel. A United States official said the department was looking into whether the Saudis used white phosphorus improperly.[392]

Targeting of wounded and medical personnel

The United Nations alleged that the Saudi-led coalition had committed a war crime[393] because the bombing was a 'double tap' attack. This is when the first bombing is followed by a second one soon after, which aims to attack the wounded, aid workers and medical personnel tending to them. The UN report said: "The second air strike, which occurred three to eight minutes after the first air strike, almost certainly resulted in more casualties to the already wounded and the first responders."[393] Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said that his government was being careful to abide by humanitarian law.[393]

According to the Save the Children group, children have died as a result of Saudi Arabia delaying aid for Yemen by month.[394]

Iranian involvement

The coalition accused Iran of militarily and financially supporting the Houthis.[395][396] On 9 April U.S. secretary of state John Kerry said there were "obviously supplies that have been coming from Iran", with "a number of flights every single week that have been flying in", and warned Iran to stop its alleged support of the Houthis.[397] Iran denied these claims.

Anti-Houthi fighters defending Aden claimed they captured two officers in the Iranian Quds Force on 11 April, who had purportedly been serving as military advisers to the Houthi militias in the city.[398] However, this claim was not repeated. Iran denied presence of any Iranian military force.[399]

According to Michael Horton, an expert on Yemeni affairs, the notion that the Houthis are an Iranian proxy is "nonsense".[400]

According to the AFP, a confidential report presented to the Security Council's Iran sanctions committee in April 2015 claimed that Iran had been shipping weapons to the Houthi rebels since between 2009 and 2013.[401] The panel further noted the absence of reports of any weapon shipments since 2013.[402]

On 2 May, Abdollahian said that Tehran would not let regional powers jeopardize its security interests.[402]

According to American officials, Iran discouraged Houthi rebels from taking over the Yemeni capital in late 2014, casting further doubt on claims that the rebels were fighting a proxy war on behalf of Iran. A spokeswoman for the US National Security Council said that it remained the council's assessment that "Iran does not exert command and control over the Houthis in Yemen."[403]

On 6 May Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said, "The Americans shamelessly support the killing of the Yemeni population, but they accuse Iran of interfering in that country and of sending weapons when Iran only seeks to provide medical and food aid."[404]

On 26 September 2015, Saudi Arabia announced that an Iranian fishing boat loaded with weapons, including rockets and anti-tank shells, was intercepted and seized in the Arabian Sea, 150 miles southeast of the Omani Port of Salalah, by Arab coalition forces.[405]

Western involvement

The UK and the US support the effort through arms sales and technical assistance.[406] France had also made recent military sales to Saudi Arabia.[407] MSF emergency coordinator Karline Kleijer called the US, France and the UK part of the Saudi-led coalition, which imposed the weapons embargo and blocked all ships from entering Yemen with supplies.[408] Rights groups have criticized the countries for supplying arms, and accuse the coalition of using cluster munitions, which are banned in most countries.[409] Oxfam pointed out that Germany, Iran, and Russia have also reportedly sold arms to the conflicting forces.[410] Tariq Riebl, head of programmes in Yemen for Oxfam, said, "it's difficult to argue that a weapon sold to Saudi Arabia would not in some way be used in Yemen," or "if it's not used in Yemen it enables the country to use other weapons in Yemen."[406] Amnesty International urged the US and the UK to stop supplying arms to Saudi Arabia and to the Saudi-led coalition.[411]

United States

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter with Saudi Defense Minister Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, Pentagon, 13 May 2015

In March 2015, President Barack Obama declared that he had authorized U.S. forces to provide logistical and intelligence support to the Saudis in their military intervention in Yemen, establishing a "Joint Planning Cell" with Saudi Arabia.[412] This includes aerial refueling permitting coalition aircraft more loitering time over Yemen, and permitting some coalition members to home base aircraft rather than relocate them to Saudi Arabia.[124]

US supported the intervention by "providing intelligence sharing, targeting assistance, advisory and logistical support to the military intervention", according to the state department.[413] In April 2015, the US expanded its intelligence-sharing with the coalition.[414] Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken said: "As part of that effort, we have expedited weapons deliveries, we have increased our intelligence sharing, and we have established a joint coordination planning cell in the Saudi operation centre."[415] Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that evidence shows that SA had been using U.S.-supplied cluster bombs outlawed in much of the world.[416] According to Anthony Cordesman, the US government does not want "the strategic Bab-el-Mandeb strait" to be threatened.[417]

According to press reporting, many in US SOCOM reportedly favor Houthis, as they have been effective at combating al-Qaeda and recently ISIL, "something that hundreds of U.S. drone strikes and large numbers of advisers to Yemen's military had failed to accomplish".[418] According to a senior CENTCOM commander, "the reason the Saudis didn't inform us of their plans is because they knew we would have told them exactly what we think — that it was a bad idea." As Yemen expert Michael Horton puts it, the US had been "Iran's air force in Iraq", and "al-Qaeda's air force in Yemen". According to an Al Jazeera report, one reason for US support may be the diplomatic logic of tamping down SA's opposition to the Iranian nuclear deal by backing them. Another is the view among some US military commanders that countering Iran took strategic priority over combating Al-Qaeda and ISIL.[418]

Senator John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, praised the intervention, saying, "The prospect of radical groups like Iranian-backed Houthi militants" was "more than [U.S. Arab allies] could withstand."[418]

U.S. Navy has actively participated in the Saudi-led naval blockade.[419]

On 30 June an HRW report stated that US-made bombs were being used in attacks indiscriminately targeting civilians and violating the laws of war. The report photographed "the remnants of an MK-83 air-dropped 1,000-pound bomb made in the U.S".[358]

U.S. Representative Ted Lieu has been publicly raising concerns over U.S. support for Saudi-led war in Yemen. In March 2016, he sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. He wrote in the letter that the "apparent indiscriminate airstrikes on civilian targets in Yemen seem to suggest that either the coalition is grossly negligent in its targeting or is intentionally targeting innocent civilians".[364] Following American concern about civilian casualties in the Saudi-led war in Yemen, the US military involvement is mostly ineffective due to coalition's airstrikes targeting civilian and hospitals.[420]

In September 2016, Senators Rand Paul and Chris Murphy worked to prevent the proposed sale of $1.15 billion in arms from the U.S. to Saudi Arabia.[421] The U.S. Senate voted 71 to 27 against the Murphy–Paul resolution to block the U.S.–Saudi arms deal.[422] CNN's Wolf Blitzer questioned Senator Paul's reasoning during an interview, stating that cutting off military aid would hurt the profits of the arms industry. "So for you this is a moral issue," he told Senator Paul on CNN. "Because you know, there's a lot of jobs at stake. Certainly if a lot of these defense contractors stop selling war planes, other sophisticated equipment to Saudi Arabia, there's going to be a significant loss of jobs, of revenue here in the United States. That's secondary from your standpoint?"[423] Following the vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said: "I think it's important to the United States to maintain as good a relationship with Saudi Arabia as possible."[424]

A March 2016 Human Rights Watch report states that U.S. participation in specific military operations, such as selecting targets and aerial refueling during Saudi air raids "may make US forces jointly responsible for laws-of-war violations by coalition forces".[425] In September The Guardian reported that one in three bombing raids hit civilian sites.[426]

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, 19 April 2017

U.S. government lawyers have considered whether the United States is legally a "co-belligerent" in the conflict, but have not reached a conclusion as of September 2016. Such a finding would oblige the U.S. to investigate allegations of war crimes by the Saudi coalition, and U.S. military personnel could be subject to prosecution.[427][428]

On 13 October 2016, the USS Nitze fired Tomahawk missiles at Houthi-controlled radar sites "in the Dhubab district of Taiz province, a remote area overlooking the Bab al-Mandab Straight known for fishing and smuggling."[429]

In January 2017, Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson voiced support for the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen.[430] U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis asked President Donald Trump to remove restrictions on U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia.[431][432] In February 2017, Mattis wanted to intercept and board an Iranian ship in the Arabian Sea to look for contraband weapons, which would have constituted an "act of war".[433] In April 2017, Justin Amash, Walter Jones and other members of Congress criticized U.S. involvement in Saudi Arabian military campaign in Yemen, highlighting that Al Qaeda in Yemen "has emerged as a de facto ally of the Saudi-led militaries with whom [Trump] administration aims to partner more closely".[433]

United Kingdom

UK military export licences for Saudi Arabia
[GBP millions]
Source: UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills[434]
340
1,735
109
1,602
80
2,836
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015*
*Q1-Q3 only

The UK is one of the largest suppliers of arms to Saudi Arabia,[435] and London immediately expressed strong support for the Saudi-led campaign.[436] Six months into the bombing, Oxfam said the UK was "quietly fuelling the Yemen conflict and exacerbating one of the world's worst humanitarian crises" by keeping its arms pipeline to Saudi Arabia open;[12] the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) agreed that "UK arms and UK cooperation have been central to the devastation of Yemen."[437] In mid-September 2015, the deputy chief executive of Oxfam complained that the government even refused to reveal to Parliament the details of the 37 arms export licences it had granted for sales to Saudi Arabia since March that year.[438] The attack on Yemen saw sales of UK bombs for 2015 increase from £9m to over £1bn in three months.[439] Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have shown that UK arms are being used on civilian targets.[440][441] Furthermore, the UK government has been repeatedly accused of violating domestic, EU, and international law, in particular the Arms Trade Treaty, by maintaining its flow of weapons to the Kingdom.[12][442][443]

Despite this, it was reported in November 2015 that the UK planned a number of high-level visits to Saudi Arabia over the following three to six months with the aim of securing major arms deals.[444]

In January 2016, it emerged that UK military advisors were assisting Saudi personnel in the selection of targets.[445] On 2 February 2016, the International Development Select Committee finally added its call for the UK to cease exporting arms to Saudi Arabia and to end its opposition to an independent international inquiry into the way the military campaign had been conducted thus far.[446] The committee's call went unheeded; indeed, just weeks later, on the day the EU held a non-binding vote in favour of an arms embargo on the country because of its destructive bombing of Yemen, Prime Minister David Cameron boasted about the "brilliant" arms, components, and other military technology that the UK would continue to sell to Saudi Arabia, Oman, and other Gulf states.[447]

Saudi Arabia's UK-supplied Eurofighter Typhoons are playing a central role in Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen.[448]

Angus Robertson, the SNP's Parliamentary Group Leader, said David Cameron should admit to British involvement in Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen: "Isn't it time for the Prime Minister to admit that Britain is effectively taking part in a war in Yemen that is costing thousands of civilians lives and he has not sought parliamentary approval to do this?"[449] A few months later, leading American security expert Bruce Riedel noted: "If the United States and the United Kingdom, tonight, told King Salman [of Saudi Arabia] 'this war has to end,' it would end tomorrow. The Royal Saudi Air Force cannot operate without American and British support."[450]

As well as supplying materiel and targeting support for the bombing of Yemen, the UK has assisted the coalition diplomatically. For example, the UK response, provided by Middle East Minister Tobias Ellwood, to the leaked report of a UN panel in January 2016, which documented more than one hundred instances of coalition air strikes that had violated international law, was to say that the Saudis had made "mistakes" and claim that other cases may have been "fabricated" by the Houthis.[451]

Theresa May succeeded David Cameron as prime minister in July 2016, but maintained her predecessor's policy because, she claimed, close ties with the Saudis "keep people on the streets of Britain safe".[452] In September 2016, her foreign minister, Boris Johnson, refused to block UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia,[453] saying there remained no clear evidence of breaches of international humanitarian law by Saudi Arabia in the war in Yemen, and that it would be best for Saudi Arabia to investigate itself.[454] Amid reports from Yemen of famine conditions[455] and "emaciated children [...] fighting for their lives",[456] CAAT observed that the notion of self-investigation would rightly never pass muster if it were proposed for Russia's bombing in support of Assad in Syria.[457] Indeed, in October 2016, Boris Johnson commended the notion of referring allegations of Russian and Russian-backed war crimes to the International Court of Justice.[458] The previous month, Johnson had rejected a proposal for the UN Human Rights Council to conduct an inquiry into the war in Yemen.[459] Furthermore, Britain blocked such an inquiry from taking place.[459]

In October 2016, it emerged that the United Kingdom was continuing to provide instruction to pilots of the Royal Saudi Air Force, both in the UK and in Saudi Arabia.[452]

Private military involvement

On 22 November 2015, The New York Times reported the United Arab Emirates had secretly deployed 450 Colombian, Panamanian, Salvadoran and Chilean mercenaries to Yemen in October. Their training program, which mainly recruits Colombians, was initially run by Erik Prince, formerly of Blackwater USA, who had flown them into the UAE posing as construction workers in 2010, at the request of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.[460] Operational control was reportedly handed to the Emirati military shortly thereafter. This is the program's first deployment. Their exact role in Yemen is unclear.[461]

Colombia Reports said in October that about 800 former Colombian Armed Forces members had signed up for three months of service in return for $1,000 per week and instant Emirati citizenship, if they survive. A retired CAF commander told El Tiempo, "We are called mercenaries, traitors, cowards and opportunists. We are nothing like that. We are men who made a decision in response to the lack of guarantees."[462]

On 9 December, Australian media reported an Australian mercenary commander was killed in Yemen alongside six Colombian nationals after Houthi fighters and Saleh army units attacked Saudi-led forces in the country's south-west.[463][464]

Overall airstrike casualties

Year Date Place Deaths Source
2015 26 March–7 April[465] Sana'a 88 civilians U.N.
2015 26 March–23 April[466] Sana'a 209 people U.N.
2015 30 March[467] Mazraq 29 civilians U.N.
2015 31 March[468] Saada 19 civilians U.N.
2015 31 March[469] Ibb province 14 people (11 civilians) Local sources
2015 31 March[470] Wadi Saan 10 civilians Local sources
2015 31 March[471] Hodeida governorate 31 civilians HRW
2015 4 April[472] Sanaa governorate 9 civilians of the same family Reuters via Local sources
2015 7 April[473][474] Maitam 3 civilians Local sources
2015 12 April[475] Taiz 8 civilians Local sources
2015 14 April[476] Taiz 10 civilians Amnesty International
2015 17 April[477] Yarim, south of Sanaa 7 civilians Local sources
2015 17 April[478] Sanaa 8 civilians
2015 18 April[479] Saada 1 civilian Local sources
2015 19–29 April[480] Haradh 15 people U.N.
2015 20 April[481] Fajj Atan military base, Sana'a 90 people ICRC
2015 21 April–5 May[482] Aden 22 civilians U.N.
2015 21 April[483] Ibb province 20 people Local sources
2015 21 April[483] Haradh 9 people Local sources
2015 26 April[484] Al-Thawra hospital, Taiz 19 people U.N.
2015 27 April[485] Aden 2 civilians Local sources
2015 27–28 April[486] Bajel District 30 people U.N.
2015 28 April[487] between Al-Qaras and Basatir 40 civilians Local sources
2015 1 May[482] Sana'a 17 civilians U.N.
2015 6 May[488][489] Sadaa 34 people including at least 27 civilians U.N. and HRW
2015 6 May[488] Sanaa 20 people U.N.
2015 6 May[490] Kitaf 7 civilians Local sources
2015 6 May[275] Dhamar governorate 11 people Local sources
2015 9 May[491] Saada 4 civilians U.N.
2015 11 May[492] Sanaa 5 people Agence France-Presse
2015 14 May[493] Saada 9 people Associated Press
2015 21 May[494] Hajjah Governorate 5 civilians U.N
2015 26 May[495] Saada 7 civilians Local sources
2015 26 May[476] Taiz 8 civilians Amnesty International
2015 27 May[496][497] Saada and Yemen 80–100 people Reuters
2015 4 June[498] Across Yemen 58 people Local sources
2015 6 June[327] Across Yemen 38 people Local sources
2015 7 June[499] Sanaa 44 people Local sources
2015 12 June[500] Old City of Sanaa 6 people Local sources
2015 13 June[501] Bait Me'yad, Sanaa 9 people Medical sources
2015 16 June[476] Taiz 5 civilians Amnesty International
2015 19 June[502] Across Yemen 10 civilians Local sources
2015 21 June[503] Across Yemen 15 people BBC
2015 30 June[504] Saada 2 people Local sources
2015 30 June[476] Taiz 4 civilians Amnesty International
2015 2 July[504] Sanaa 8 people Houthi-controlled Saba News Agency.
2015 3 July[505] Across Yemen 16 people Local sources
2015 6 July[506] Across Yemen 100 people Local and Medical sources
2015 7 July[476] Taiz 11 Lahj Amnesty International
2015 9 July[476][507] Taiz 11 Lahj Amnesty International
2015 25 July[508] Mokha, Yemen 120 civilians Associated Press
2015 17 August[509] Jibla and Al-Jawf 17 civilians Local officials
2015 19 August[510] Sanaa 15 civilians UN
2015 21 August[511] Taiz 65 civilians Doctors Without Borders
2015 28 August[512] Taiz 10 people Reuters
2015 30 August[513] Hajjah and Sanaa 40 civilians Local sources
2015 5 September[514] Sanaa 27 civilians Reuters
2015 6 September[514] Al Jawf Governorate 30 people Reuters
2015 12 September[515] Across Yemen 16 civilians Reuters
2015 14 September[516] Sanaa, Yemen 10 people Reuters
2015 20 September[517] Saada 20 People Reuters
2015 21 September[517] Hajjah and Sanaa 50 people Reuters
2015 27 September[518] Hajjah 30 civilians Local sources
2015 28 September[518] Al-Wahijah, Taiz 131 civilians Medics
2015 8 October[519] Dhamar, Yemen 25 – 50 people Reuters
2016 10 January[520] Saada, Yemen 6 civilians Doctors Without Borders
2016 13 January[521] Bilad al-Rus 15 civilians Local sources
2016 27 February[522] Sanaa 40 civilians Reuters
2016 15 March[523] Mastaba at least 119 people UN
2016 20 June[524] Sanaa 8 civilians Yemeni Officials
2016 7 August[525] Nehm district 18 civilians Local officials
2016 9 August[526] Sanaa 13 civilians Reuters
2016 13 August[527] Saada 19 civilians MSF
2016 15 August[374][528] Hajjah province 19 civilians MSF
2016 10 September[529] Arhab district 30 people UN
2016 21 September[530] Al Hudaydah Governorate 26 civilians Reuters
2016 8 October[531] Sanaa 140 people UN
2016 29 October[532] Al Hudaydah 60 inmates Reuters
2016 28 November[533] Al Hudaydah at least 13 civilians Yemeni officials
2017 1 January[534] Sirwah District 5 civilians Military officials
2017 7 January[535] Sana'a 12 civilians Medics
2017 10 January[535] Nehm district 8 children Rescuers
2017 15 February[536] north of Sanaa 10 women and children Reuters
2017 10 March[537] Al Khawkhah district 18 civilians UN
2017 15 March[538] Mastaba 119 people Human Rights Watch
2017 16 March[539] Bab-el-Mandeb 42 Somali refugees UN
2017 3 April[540] Sarawah District 8 civilians Security and tribal officials
2017 17 May[541] Mawza District 23 civilians Houthis
2017 17 June[542] Saada Governorate 24 civilians Health officials
2017 18 July[543] al-Atera village, Mawza District 20+ civilians UN
2017 23 August[544][545] Arhab, Sana'a 48+ civilians Medical officials

A Houthi spokesman stated on 28 April that the airstrikes had killed 200 members of all pro-Houthi forces since the campaign started.[108] In addition, UNICEF reported on 24 April that the strikes had killed 64 children.[546]

Between 26 March and 21 April, The New York Times confirmed 18 airstrikes that resulted in civilian casualties.[547]

According to the United Nations, between 26 March and 10 May 2015, the conflict, killed at least 828 Yemeni civilians, including 91 women and 182 children. 182 were killed between 4 and 10 May alone, with most of those due to the airstrikes.[548]

Yemeni capital Sanaa after airstrikes, 9 October 2015

On 6 May HRW reported that an airstrike struck a residential home in Saada, killing 27 members of one family, including 17 children[489] and on 26 May, 7 more members of the same family were killed in another airstrike.[495]

On 27 May nearly 100 people were killed due to airstrikes hitting Sanaa, Sa'da and Hodeida in the largest ever one-day death toll throughout the conflict.[497]

On 28 June a coalition airstrike hit and damaged the UN compound in Aden, severely damaging the UNDP building and injuring a guard.[549]

On 30 June HRW released a report stating that coalition airstrikes on the northern Yemeni city of Saada, a Houthi rebel stronghold, had killed dozens of civilians and wrecked homes and markets. The group said it had documented a dozen airstrikes on Saada that destroyed or damaged civilian homes, five markets, a school and a petrol station although there was no evidence of military use. "Saada City's streets are littered with bomb craters, destroyed buildings, and other evidence of coalition airstrikes," HRW's Sarah Leah Whitson said in the report[550] and later added. "These attacks appear to be serious laws-of-war violations that need to be properly investigated."[551]

On 6 July airstrikes killed over 100 people including more than 30 civilians in Al Joob, Amran.[552] The state-run news agency said that 40 had been killed in a raid on a livestock market in al-Foyoush. Local residents also reported 30 deaths in a raid they said apparently targeted a Houthi checkpoint on the main road between Aden and Lahj. They said 10 of the dead were Houthi fighters. MSF head of mission in Yemen said "It is unacceptable that airstrikes take place in highly concentrated civilian areas where people are gathering and going about their daily lives, especially at a time such as Ramadan."[506]

On 25 July airstrikes killed over 120 civilians in the town of Mokha, marking the deadliest strike yet against civilians. The airstrikes hit workers' housing for a power plant in Mokha, flattening some of the buildings, the officials said. A fire erupted in the area, charring many of the corpses. "It just shows what is the trend now of the airstrikes from the coalition," said Hassan Boucenine of the Geneva-based Doctors Without Borders. "Now, it's a house, it's a market, it's anything." He added that many of the workers had families visiting for the Eid al-Fitr holiday at the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Mokha, populated largely by fisherman, had a reputation as one of the safest places in the country embroiled in war, said Boucenine.[508]

On 18 August AI reported that it had confirmed 141 civilian deaths from eight airstrikes.[553]

On 15 March 2016 Saudi-led airstrikes on a market in Mastaba killed at least 119 people, including 25 children.[554]

The attack on 8 October 2016 killed 140 people and injuring 500 persons in one of the single worst death tolls in the two-year war. There are coalitions between Saudi Arabia and his allies in the subject. Also Uk is under pressure for exporting Lucrative Arms and weapons to Saudi Arabia.[555]

Civilian airstrike casualties

On 11 September 2015, UN Human Rights Commissioner said that of 1,527 civilians killed between 26 March and 30 June, at least 941 people were killed by airstrikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition.[556][557][558][559]

On 24 August, the UN special representative of the secretary-general for children and armed conflict said, that of 402 children killed in Yemen since late March 2015, 73 percent were victims of Saudi coalition-led airstrikes.[560][561] The UN also said at this time that an average of 30 people had been killed in Yemen every single day since the beginning of the war. On top of this, more than 23,000 had been wounded.[562]

On 27 October, the OHCHR said that out of 2,615 civilians killed between 26 March and 26 October 2015, 1,641 civilians had reportedly been killed due to airstrikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition.[563][564]

The January 2016 report of a UN panel of experts, presented to the UN security council, attributed 60 percent (2,682) of all civilian deaths and injuries in the war since 26 March 2015 to air-launched explosive weapons.[382][388]

On 1 February 2016 Reuters reported: "Mortars and rockets fired at Saudi Arabian towns and villages have killed 375 civilians, including 63 children, since the start of the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen in late March, Riyadh said."[565]

On 16 September 2016, The Guardian reported: "The independent and non-partisan survey, based on open-source data, including research on the ground, records more than 8,600 air attacks between March 2015, when the Saudi-led campaign began, and the end of August this year. Of these, 3,577 were listed as having hit military sites and 3,158 struck non-military sites. ... The UN has put the death toll of the 18-month war at more than 10,000, with 3,799 of them being civilians."[566]

In October 2016, a densely populated funeral in Yemen was struck, leaving at least 155 dead[567] and 525 wounded,[568] including the senior military and security officials of the Shia Houthi and loyalists of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.[568] The attack was reportedly carried out by Saudi Arabia.[569] Saudi Arabia accepts the finding of the Joint Incidents Assessment Team, a setup of coalition states to investigate complaints against coalitions' conduct in Decisive Storm, that coalition's bombardment at a funeral ceremony in Sana'a, in which over 140 people were killed and more than 600 injured, was based on wrong information.[570] Reportedly, the United States is reviewing its policy of support for the Saudi-led coalition. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sought assurances from Saudi Arabia that incidents such as the airstrike on a civilian funeral in Sana'a will not happen again. He proposed a cease-fire and a return to talks aiming for a political resolution of the conflict. Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said he hoped to institute a 72-hour cease-fire as soon as possible, provided the Houthis will agree.[571]

Killed journalists and media workers

In 2015 Yemen was ranked 168th out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) press freedom index. According to an annual round-up published on 29 December 2015 by RSF, six journalists in Yemen (out of 67 worldwide) were killed in 2015 because of their work or while reporting.[572] According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least six journalists were killed in airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition between March 2015 and the end of January 2016.[573][574]

On 17 January 2016, the freelance Yemeni journalist Almigdad Mojalli was killed in an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition in Jaref, a Houthi-controlled district in the outskirts of Sana'a.[575][576] Mojalli had gone there, working for Voice of America (VOA), to interview survivors of air strikes in Jaref in which up to 21 civilians had been killed days earlier.[576][577] Rory Peck Trust honored him as "key source of information for visiting journalists" in Yemen.[578] Daniel Martin Varisco, President of the American Institute for Yemeni Studies and Research Professor at Qatar University, said in an obituary that Mojalli's work "was a voice documenting the humanitarian crisis that the world outside Yemen has largely ignored" and a voice that "has been silenced".[579] RSF, CPJ, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Yemen Journalists' Syndicate (YJS) and UNESCO condemned Mojalli's death.[573][576][580] UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and RSF reminded all the parties to the armed conflict in Yemen that they were required to respect and ensure the safety of all journalists by UN Security Council Resolution 2222, adopted in 2015, and by the Geneva Conventions.[576][581][582]

On 21 January 2016, the 17-year-old TV cameraman Hashem al-Hamran was mortally injured by an air-strike by the Saudi-led coalition in the city of Dahian (Saada Governorate), when he was filming bombing raids for the Houthi-run television channel al-Masirah TV. He died from his wounds on 22 January 2016.[574][583] The YJS, the IFJ and Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, condemned the killing of Hashem Al Hamran.[583][584]

The director of Yemen TV, Munir al-Hakami, and his wife, Suaad Hujaira, who also worked for the state-owned, Houthi-controlled broadcaster, were killed along with their three children by a coalition air strike on 9 February 2016.[585][586][587] They were living in a residential area nowhere near a possible military target;[585][587] the killing of the two media workers was condemned by the head of UNESCO.[586]

Infrastructure damage and humanitarian situation

In terms of "numbers of people in need" the humanitarian crisis in Yemen was "the largest in the world", according to the UN Security Council.[588] In August 2015, the head of the International Red Cross said, "Yemen after five months looks like Syria after five years."[589]

The U.N. human rights office reported more than 8,100 civilians were killed or wounded between 26 March and the end of 2015, the vast majority from airstrikes by Saudi-led coalition forces.[590]

At the beginning of May 2015, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said, that there had been "severe destruction of civilian infrastructure, including houses, in many districts" since 26 March.[379][482] Severe damage caused by attacks on Yemen's essential civilian infrastructure such as airports in Sana'a and Hodeida by the Saudi-led military coalition was obstructing the delivery of much-needed humanitarian assistance and movement of humanitarian personnel according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).[591][592][593]

In the first weeks since 26 March massive destruction of civilian infrastructure particularly happened in Aden and Sa'da, according to OHCHR.[594][595]

In August 2015, air attacks of the Saudi-led coalition on port facilities at Al-Hudaydah "in clear contravention of international humanitarian law", said Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O'Brien.[596][597]

In mid-February 2016, Stephen O'Brien said the situation in Yemen was a "humanitarian catastrophe", with 21 million people in need of some kind of aid, 7.6 million people "severely food-insecure", and over 3.4 million children out of school.[598] O'Brien noted the situation had not been helped by the diversion of an aid vessel by coalition forces.[598]

Timeline

On 26 March, Interior Ministry officials linked to Ansar Allah documented that 23 civilians had been killed and 24 wounded. Among the dead were 5 children, ages 2 to 13, 6 women and an elderly man. The wounded included 12 children, ages 3 to 8, and 2 women due to airstrike against Sana'a particularly in Bani Hawat, a predominantly Houthi neighborhood near Sanaa's airports and al-Nasr, near the presidential palace. HRW documented the deaths of 11 civilians, including 2 women and 2 children, other than those provided by the Yemeni officials along with 14 more wounded, including 3 children and 1 woman. According to AI, that bombing destroyed at least 14 homes in Bani Hawat.[599]

On 31 March, OCHA reported that 13 of 22 Governorates were affected and highlighted infrastructure effects that detailed coalition bombing of a refugee camp that killed 29 and injured 40. Fuel shortages in the south threatened water access to citizens and in Lahj, electricity and water services had not been functioning for several days.[600] Later that day, AI reported that at least six civilians, including four children, were burned to death as a result of an airstrike. It reported that two fuel stations were destroyed. In al-Kadima area in al-Kita, several passengers were killed in a car that had stopped to refuel and a worker was injured. The third strike, apparently aimed at a passing fuel tanker, set fire to at least three civilian homes. AI then stated that "it is becoming increasingly apparent that the Saudi Arabian-led coalition is turning a blind eye to civilian deaths and suffering caused by its military intervention."[601]

On 17 April, OCHA reported on the increasing deterioration of the humanitarian situation, reporting airstrikes hitting in Saada City a water tank, the electricity station, a petrol station, a plastics processing factory, a shopping centre and a housing complex. Several days earlier, airstrikes had hit private homes, the post office, a community centre, government offices, markets and vehicles. Local partners estimated about 50 dead within the past week. In Sana'a residential neighborhoods near Assir, Ayban and Faj Attan were affected due to their proximity to military camps. In Amran, airstrikes hit a petrol station, an educational institute and a bridge. According to local reports, a local water corporation in Hajjah (Abbs District) was hit. The report also stated that civilian casualties were under-reported as families without access to hospitals bury their members at home.[602]

On 20 April coalition airstrikes hit the Fajj Atan military base, causing a large explosion that killed 38 civilians and injured over 500. The airstrike also targeted the office of Yemen Today, a TV network owned by Ali Abdullah Saleh, killing three and injuring other workers. An eye witness reported that emergency rooms were overwhelmed.[603][604] The head of the ICRC in Yemen later clarified that 90 people had died during this attack.[481]

On 21 April the BBC reported a warning from the UN about worsening health services and a dire need for medicines.[605]

On 24 April UNICEF released a report stating that since the start of the military intervention, 115 children had been killed, with at least 64 from aerial bombardment.[546]

According to OCHA's fifth report, released on 26 April, humanitarian operations would come to a complete halt within two weeks and hospitals in both Sanaa and Aden would close completely due to the lack of fuel. The lack of fuel affected water supplies. Markets in affected governorates are not able to provide food, with wheat grain and flour prices rising by 42% and 44%, respectively. The healthcare system faced an imminent collapse with hospitals struggling to operate due to lack of medicines and supplies. Essential medicine prices increased by 300%.

Casualties from 19 March to 22 April reached 1,080 (28 children and 48 women) and 4,352 wounded (80 children and 143 women). According to the WFP, 12 million people were food insecure, a 13% rise.[606]

On 29 April OCHA reported that airstrikes hit SIA on 28 April, damaging the runway and hampering aid deliveries. Airstrikes were also reported at Al Hudayda Airport and Saada. Widespread internet and phone disruptions were reported in several governorates due to the lack of fuel and electricity. On 25 April, the Yemen Public Telecommunications Corporation warned that unless the fuel crisis was resolved, telecommunication services (mobile phones, internet, and land lines) would shut down within a week. The disruption in communication was affecting information flow on humanitarian needs and operations. On 29 April, Haradh was heavily bombarded, including areas near the main hospital. Food distribution and aid would reportedly stop within a week if additional fuel could not be obtained. As of 29 April the Al Hudaydah Governorate ran out of fuel and aid operations could not be completed.[480]

On 30 April OCHA's Flash Update 22 reported that airstrikes hit the only main roads that connect the Sana'a Governorate with Ibb. It also indicated that over 3,410 people from Yemen had arrived in Somalia since the fighting escalated, with 2,285 arrivals registered in Puntland and 1,125 registered in the Somaliland. A further 8,900 migrants were registered in Djibouti, 4,700 of whom were third country nationals.[607]

On 4 May coalition airstrikes hit SIA, destroying a cargo ship and other planes used to transport food and supplies.[608] OCHA reported that several airstrikes hit the Al Hudayda airport and surrounding areas in Al Hudayda City. In Aden, the districts of Craiter and Al-Muala were without electricity, water and telecommunication for over a week according to residents.[609]

On 5 May, in order to send humanitarian aid, van der Klaauw haggled with the coalition to stop bombing SIA.[610] He emphasized the effects on persons with disabilities stating that over 3,000,000 people with disabilities could not meet their basic needs. The conflict forced more than 300 centres to close. He added that they were especially concerned about an airstrike that targeted a military field hospital.[482]

On 6 May, the OCHA reported lack of fuel to support humanitarian operations beyond one week, with fuel and food prices continuing to increase.[611] The World Food Programme declared that shortages of fuel has changed to a serious threat for hospitals and food supplies. Edward Santiago, country director for Save the Children, said in statement a short time ceasefire is not enough to allow for humanitarian supplies.[612]

On 7 May, trade sources stated that merchant ships had been delayed weeks Yemen and in one case, following inspection and approval, a food supply ship was denied access. The food crisis increased to include over 20 million people (80% of the population) going hungry.[613] Airstrikes destroyed a mine factory and a communications center. Local sources reported that 13 villagers were killed due to shelling near the border.[614]

On 18 May, HRW documented airstrikes that hit homes and markets and killed and wounded civilians. HRW documented the bombing of four markets.[489]

The conflict is exacerbating Yemen's water scarcity, Sanaa, 21 May 2015

On 21 May, OCHA reported airstrikes that hit two farms adjacent to a humanitarian facility in Hajjah Governorate and resulted in civilian casualties. A warehouse containing humanitarian supplies was damaged in another strike. In Sa'adah City, satellite imagery analysis identified widespread damage to infrastructure with 1,171 structures affected, damaged or destroyed. The analysis showed that as of 17 May, 35 impact craters existed within the city, mostly along the runway of Sa'ada airport. Similar imagery of Aden identified 642 affected structures, including 327 destroyed. Local partners reported that 674 schools were forced to close in Sana'a, affecting 551,000 students.[494]

Fuel prices increased by over 500% and food supplies by 80% since 26 March. The continued restrictions on the arrival of goods via air and sea ports, and insecurity on roads, restricted the delivery of essential supplies. In Sana'a, security concerns due to airstrikes prevented delivery of food assistance.

On 21 May, five Ethiopian migrants were killed and two others injured in an airstrike that hit open space 500 metres from an IOM-managed Migrant Response Centre. With continued conflict and import restrictions, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes were likely in the coming month. In six governorates, reports from OCHA partners show that basic food items are no longer available (Aden, Abyan, Al Dhale'e, Al Bayda, Lahj, Sa'ada).[615]

On 3 June, The Operations Room of the Ministry of Health in Sana'a was damaged. It manages emergency operations nationwide.[616]

On 5 June, the Washington Post reported that several Yemeni cultural and heritage strikes had been repeatedly targeted by Saudi airstrikes. Reports stated that Al-Qahira Castle, the 1,200-year-old al-Hadi Mosque and Dhamar Museum with over 12,500 artifacts[617] were destroyed and the Great Dam of Marib was hit.[618]

On 17 June, an OCHA report highlighted that food security had continued to worsen, with 19 out of 22 governorates now classified 'crisis' or 'emergency'. Half the population was 'food insecure' and nearly a quarter 'severely food insecure. A joint analysis of household food security by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) WFP and the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation in Yemen (MoPIC) found that Yemen was sliding into catastrophe. More than six million Yemenis were then in a Phase 4 Emergency, and nearly 6.9 million people are in a Phase 3 Crisis: These figures indicate that Yemen was approaching a complete breakdown in food security and health.[619]

An airstrike in Sana'a on a textile factory in July 2015 left more than 1,300 people unemployed (photo: A. Mojalli/VOA, November 2015)[620]
Apartment building destroyed by a strike in Sanaa on 5 September 2015

On 26 July, the OCHA announced that airstrikes hit the residential complex of the Al Mukha Power Station in Al Mukha District, Taiz Governorate with health facilities reporting 55 deaths and 96 injuries and media reports as high as 120, all civilians.[621]

On 27 August, the OCHA announced that airstrikes targeting that Al-Hudaydah port facilities late on 17 August and early 18 August had brought the port activities to a near halt and that the port was empty of all vessels and remained non-operational. A UN-chartered aid vessel carrying 2,230 MT of mixed food commodities left the port and was rerouted to Djibouti.[597]

On 5 January 2016, an airstrike by the Saudi-led military coalition hit the Al Noor Center for Care and Rehabilitation of Blind, in the Safiah district of Sana'a,[622][623][624] the capital's only center, school, and home for people with visual disabilities.[624][625] Five people were injured. Human Rights Watch and media reported, if the bomb had exploded, the damage would have been much worse.[624][626] Human Rights Watch blamed both the Saudi-led coalition for hitting civilian targets and the Houthi militants battling the coalition. HRW said Houthi militants were partially to blame for using civilian sites for military purposes. Armed Houthis were stationed near the Al Noor center, putting the students at risk.[624][625][626]

On 20 April 2016 the UN General Assembly Security Council in a report covering the period January to December 2015 "verified a sixfold increase in the number of children killed and maimed compared with 2014, totalling 1,953 child casualties (785 children killed and 1,168 injured). More than 70 per cent were boys. Of the casualties, 60 per cent (510 deaths and 667 injuries) were attributed to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition."

The last attack on 8 October 2016 led to kill 140 people and injuring 500 persons in one of the single worst death tolls in the two-year war. There are coalitions between Saudi Arabia and his allies in the subject. Also, the United Kingdom is under pressure for exporting Lucrative Arms and weapons to Saudi Arabia.[555]

Saada

Saada was the governorate of origin of 500,794 IDPs (out of 2,509,068 in total) as of December 2015.[144]

On 18 April, an airstrike in Saada hit an Oxfam warehouse, damaging humanitarian supplies and killing at least one civilian. Aid groups widely condemned the strike.[479][627]

On 8 and 9 May 2015, large-scale displacement was reported in Saada to neighbouring areas, after the Saudi-led military coalition declared the entire Saada governorate a "military zone" and started heavy airstrikes.[139][628] Around 70,000 people, including 28,000 children, fled from the Governorate of Sa'ada. The Save the Children's Country Director in Yemen, Edward Santiago, said that many more were "largely unable to flee for safety because of the de facto blockade imposed by the coalition leading to severe fuel shortages".[367] On 9 May 2015, the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Johannes van der Klaauw, condemned the air strikes on Saada city as being in breach of international humanitarian law.[137][138]

In August 2015 the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) reported that "the crisis has taken an immeasurably heavy toll on civilians in this poor, rural governorate, causing death, injury and frequent damage and destruction of infrastructure."[629]

In January 2016 the Houthi-controlled Saada area, including medical facilities run by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), received almost daily attacks. Michael Seawright, a Saada-based MSF project coordinator, said that they treated a high number of casualties, many with severe injuries. The Shiara hospital in Razeh District in Saada City, the only hospital with a trauma centre in the governorate of Saada and in most of northern Yemen, was hit on 10 January, and several people were killed, including medical personnel. MSF had been working in the facility since November 2015.[630][631]

Sana'a

457.502 IDPs (out of 2,509,068 in total) originated from Sana'a Governorate and Sana'a city as of December 2015.[144]

After the Old City of Sana'a was heavily bombed in May 2015, causing severe damage to many of its historic buildings, Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, said "I am particularly distressed by the news concerning air strikes on heavily populated areas such as the cities of Sana'a and Saa'dah."[632]

Following a surge in aerial bombing raids in the Old City of Sana'a in June 2015, the UN warned, that the country's extensive archaeological and historic heritage had been increasingly under threat.[633] In July 2015, the Old City of Sana'a, which had sustained serious damage due to armed conflict, was added to List of World Heritage in Danger.[634]

On 6 September 2015, Al Sabaeen paediatric hospital in Sana'a had to be evacuated after a nearby airstrike. The United Nations' Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA) described the event as "a severe blow to a tattered health system".[635] Before its closure the Al Sabaeen paediatric hospital – standing amid bombed out buildings in the center of Sana'a – had been the primary paediatric hospital in the area.[636] "Before the crisis it had a catchment population of about 300,000; but, since the crisis that number has risen to almost 3 million, with the entire governorate reliant on it for specialist care," said Save the Children spokesperson Mark Kaye.[636][637]

A joint report by the UK-based charity Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) and the UN-OCHA, that concluded that airstrikes were responsible for 60 percent of civilian casualties in the first seven months of 2015,[638][639] came to the result, that more than half (53 per cent) of the reported civilian toll was recorded in Sana'a and surrounding districts.[640]

On 7 January 2016, HRW reported and condemned that the Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces had used cluster bombs on residential areas of Sanaa on 6 January.[384] On 8 January the United Nations warned that their use could be a war crime.[382][383][641][642] The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was "particularly concerned about reports of intense airstrikes in residential areas and on civilian buildings in Sana'a, including the Chamber of Commerce, a wedding hall and a centre for the blind".[642][643]

HRW-investigation of six apparently unlawful airstrikes in residential areas of Sanaa city in September and October 2015,
that (according to HRW) failed to distinguish civilians from military objectives or caused disproportionate civilian loss[644]
Date Location Objectives struck Civilians killed (at least) Civilians injured
(if known)
men women children total
4 September Hadda Neighborhood, Sana'a four-story apartment building 0 1 2 3
18 September Marib Street, Sana'a house and unused iron lathe workshop 3 1 1 5 8
18 September Old City, Sana'a buildings of the World Heritage Site 4 2 7 13 12
21 September Al-Hassaba Neighborhood, Sana'a homes in the densely populated residential area 3 6 11 20  ?
23 September Al-Asbahi Neighborhood, Sana'a buildings in the residential neighborhood 7 2 10 19  ?
26 October Thabwa, Sana'a buildings in the residential neighborhood 2
civilian airstrike casualties for all 6 airstrikes, investigated by HRW (report of 21 December 2015) 60  ?

IDPs crisis

Development of the number of IDPs (January 2010 – September 2016)[645][646][647]

In April and May 2015 mass displacement was observed primarily in Saada, Amran and Hajjah governorates as airstrikes and shelling intensified in the north of Yemen.[628]

On 13 April, OCHA reported that (as of 11 April) more than 120,000 people were estimated to have been internally displaced since 26 March 2015.[648]

On 17 May the UN, citing Yemen's health services, said that as of 15 May 545,000 had been internally displaced because of the war,[649][650] up from 450,000 announced on 15 May 2015.[650][651][652]

On 1 June, the UN announced that 1,019,762 people had been internally displaced as of 28 May 2015.[653][654]

On 6 July the UN announced that as of 2 July there were 1,267,590 internally displaced people in Yemen.[655]

On 5 August, a task force of the Global Protection Cluster announced their estimate of 1,439,118 internally displaced persons from more than 250,000 households in Yemen.[656]

On 15 October the IOM-UNHCR displacement-tracking mechanism published new data showing in the 5th RFPM report that the IDP population had reached 2,305,048 people.[657][658]

The 6th RFPM report (published on 10 December 2015) gave a figure of 2,509,068 internally displaced persons.[144] Much of the increase from the previous report, published in October, could be attributed to improved tracking methods.[144][657]

Starvation and diseases

On 14 June 2015, OCHA reported a large outbreak of Dengue fever that killed over 113 people and infected over 4,000. Patients could not be treated due to lack of water in affected areas. OCHA was also investigating reports of a Measles outbreak. Health officials considered the breakdown in health services, including decrease in immunization coverage, closure of health facilities and difficulty in accessing health services as possible contributing factors.[659]

In June 2015, Oxfam's humanitarian programme manager in Sanaa said that Saudi-led naval blockade "means it's impossible to bring anything into the country. There are lots of ships, with basic things like flour, that are not allowed to approach. The situation is deteriorating, hospitals are now shutting down, without diesel. People are dying of simple diseases."[660]

On 1 July 2015, the UN announced that Yemen was at the highest level of humanitarian disaster with over 80% of the population needing help. UN agencies agreed to classify Yemen as a level 3 emergency as the UN Envoy for Yemen stated that Yemen is one step away from famine.[661]

In February 2016, the OCHA reported that 21 million people (85% of the population) were in need of some form of humanitarian assistance, 7.6 million people were "severely" food insecure, and that more than 3.4 million children were not attending school.[598]

On 4 October 2016, the UN children's agency UNICEF said 1.5 million children in Yemen suffer of malnutrition, including 370,000 enduring very severe malnutrition.[662]

In October 2016, health authorities in Yemen confirmed a cholera outbreak in Sanaa and Taiz.[663] In June 2017, cholera cases passed 100,000 with 798 deaths in the country. The water and sanitation systems are largely inoperable[664] The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the UN, have pointed to the Saudi-led naval and aerial blockade and bombing campaign as central causes behind the preventable cholera epidemic.[665][666]

“With the right medicines, these [diseases] are all completely treatable — but the Saudi Arabia-led coalition is stopping them from getting in.”

— Grant Pritchard, Save the Children's interim country director for Yemen, April 2017, Vice News [1]

Operation costs

In December 2015, David Ottaway, a senior scholar at the Wilson Center in Washington, estimated the Saudi-led military coalition was spending $200 million a day on military operations in Yemen. His sources speculate that the Saudis are supplying most of the funding.[667]

Responses

In Yemen

Opposition

Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh has openly allied with Houthis

Following the call by the leader of the Houthi movement, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, tens of thousands Yemenis of various socioeconomic backgrounds took to the streets of the rebel-controlled capital, Sana'a, to voice their anger at the Saudi intervention.[668]

On 21 April, representatives of 19 Yemeni political parties and associations rejected UN Resolution 2216, stating that it encouraged terrorist expansion, intervened in Yemen's sovereign affairs, violated Yemen's right of self-defence and emphasized the associations' support of the Yemeni Army.[669][670]

On 23 April, a spokesman for the Houthis said UN-sponsored peace talks should continue, but only following "a complete halt of attacks" by the coalition.[671]

In a televised address on 24 April, Saleh called on the Houthis and other armed groups to withdraw from the territory they had seized and participate in UN-sponsored peace talks, in exchange for an end to the air campaign.[672] Exiled Yemeni Foreign Minister rejected the peace proposal saying that Saleh had no role in the talks.[673]

On 26 April, the General Authority for Archeology and Museums in Yemen condemned attacks targeting historical sites. The statement highlighted an attack that completely destroyed an ancient fortress in the Damt District of the Ad Dali' Governorate.[674] Yemeni political parties issued a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon requesting that he continue the peace talks. The letter emphasized that Yemen was still under attack by air, land and sea and that the existing blockade was increasing the humanitarian crisis and that education had been denied for 3 million students due to the "random attacks".[675]

On 2 May, the Yemenis Forum Of Persons With Disability stated that 300 centres and organizations had been forced to stop operations following the intervention. The organization denounced the air and sea blockade that "increased the suffering of the disabled greatly".[676] The same day Hussein al-Ezzi, the Houthi head of foreign relations, sent a letter addressed to Secretary General Ban seeking an end to the "unjustified Saudi aggression".[677] He asked the UN to seek an end to what Houthis described as blatant aggression against the country.[678]

On 7 May, 17 humanitarian agencies stressed that life-saving aid would run out in a week and emphasized the need to remove the existing blockade. The International Non-Government Organizations Forum in Yemen appealed for allowing basic materials to enter the country immediately.[679]

On 10 May, Houthi military spokesman Sharaf Luqman welcomed the Russian initiative, which advocated a suspension of military operations and also lifting the blockade.[680]

Support

Yemen's President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 7 May 2015

Anti-Houthi groups, especially Sunnis, while supporting the intervention did not wish for the return to power of Hadi, since they viewed him as the man "who ceded control of the capital without a fight six months ago".[681]

On 3 April, the Al-Islah party, the Yemeni branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, declared its support for the campaign.[682] Supporters of the party reportedly suffered consequences, including kidnappings and raids, as a result of this declaration.[683][684]

On 26 April, the foreign minister in Hadi's government, Riad Yaseen, rejected Saleh's calls for UN-sponsored peace talks on the ground.[685]

Saudi Arabia

Opposition

On 5 April a firefight broke out between anti-government Shiite rioters and security forces in Saudi Arabia's Shiite-minority in Eastern Province, with one police officer killed and three others injured.[686] The firefight broke out after calls in the Eastern Province to protest against the military intervention.[687]

On 29 April, King Salman dismissed his appointed crown prince, Muqrin of Saudi Arabia. Some regional political analysts speculated that the decision was precipitated by Muqrin's alleged opposition to the intervention. Salman appointed Muhammad bin Nayef, who publicly announced his support of the operation, to replace Muqrin.[688][689]

Support

On 21 April, Saudi prince Al-Waleed bin Talal reportedly offered 100 Bentleys to participating pilots. The announcement was met with substantial criticism.[690]

Among the general populace, the war was popular.[691]

Other coalition countries

Bahrain

King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain in 2015

On 3 April Bahrainis protested against the war on Yemen.[692][693] A prominent Bahraini opposition politician, Fadhel Abbas, was reportedly arrested by Bahraini authorities for condemning the bombing as "flagrant aggression".[694]

Egypt

Supporters of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood demonstrated against Egypt's military intervention.[695]

Kuwait

Shiite parliament member Abdul Hamid Dashti reportedly criticized the war and described it as an "act of aggression".[696] A prominent Shiite lawyer, Khalid Al Shatti, was summoned by Kuwaiti authorities for his criticism of the Saudi government.[697]

On 28 April, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah stated that the only solution to the Yemen crisis was political.[698]

International

Foreign Ministers of the U.S., the U.K., Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, before a working dinner focused on Yemen, 19 July 2016

The Arab League, United States, Turkey, OIC and Hamas voiced support for the intervention,[699][700][701][702] but the European Union, Russia[703] and the United Nations criticised it.[704][705][706] The United Kingdom, and France supported the intervention,[707] and along with Canada have supplied the Saudi military with equipment.[708][709][710]

Iran condemned intervention as "US-backed aggression".[711] Iran's U.N. Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo said that "those who violate international law, including international humanitarian law, should be held accountable for their acts and there should be no room for impunity."[712] Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi expressed the Iraqi government's opposition to the intervention: "This (Yemen war) can engulf the whole region in another conflict. We don't need another sectarian war in the region."[713] The Hezbollah secretary general criticized Saudi Arabia and its allies, saying "all invaders end up being defeated".[714]

Somalia's government blamed the Saudi-led coalition for the killing of at least 42 Somali refugees off the Yemeni coast. Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre called the attack on a boat carrying refugees "atrocious" and "appalling:.[539]

Asian countries including China, India, Malaysia and Pakistan, moved within days to evacuate their citizens from Yemen.[715][716][717][718]

On 4 April, the ICRC called for a 24-hour humanitarian ceasefire after the coalition blocked three aid shipments to Yemen.[719] Russia also called for "humanitarian pauses" in the coalition bombing campaign, bringing the idea before the United Nations Security Council in a 4 April emergency meeting.[720] However, Saudi Arabia's UN ambassador raised questions over whether humanitarian pauses are the best way of delivering humanitarian assistance.[721] On 7 April, China renewed calls for an immediate ceasefire.[722]

On 10 April, the Pakistani Parliament declined a Saudi Arabian request to join the coalition. The Parliament clarified the wish to maintain a neutral diplomatic stance.[723]

France authorised $18 billion (€16 billion) in arms sales to Saudi Arabia in 2015.[710]

On 16 April a group of US and UK-based Yemen scholars wrote an open letter, stating that the operation was illegal under international law and calling for the UN to enforce an immediate ceasefire.[724]

On 19 April, international aid agency Oxfam condemned SA over airstrikes it said hit one of its warehouses containing humanitarian supplies in Saada.[725]

Aid groups came out against the air campaign: Amnesty International said some of the coalition's airstrikes "appear to have failed to take necessary precautions to minimize harm to civilians and damage to civilian objects".[726] Reporters without Borders condemned a strike in Sanaa on 20 April that caused the deaths of four employees of Al-Yemen Al-Youm TV and injured ten others; it also condemned attacks on journalists by pro-Houthi forces.[727]

On 4 May the UN called on the coalition to stop attacking Sanaa Airport to allow delivery of humanitarian aid.[728] On 10 May the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen stated that the attacks on Saada province were in breach of international law.[729] On 29 June, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon denounced a coalition airstrike that had hit a UN compound in Aden the previous day and requested a full investigation.[730]

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has criticized Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen

Human Rights Watch criticized the UN Security Council repeatedly for "remaining almost silent on coalition abuses".[141][353][731] In January 2016 an unpublished United Nations panel investigating the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen uncovered "widespread and systematic" attacks on civilian targets in violation of international humanitarian law, calling UN Security Council up for an international commission of inquiry.[382][388][389] Saudi Arabia had previously objected to an inquiry being set up,[382][732] and had not been supported by Western governments.[559][733][734][735]

In February 2016 the Secretary-General of the UN (UNSG) Ban Ki-moon raised strong concerns over continued Saudi-led airstrikes, saying that "coalition air strikes in particular continue to strike hospitals, schools, mosques and civilian infrastructures" in Yemen. He urged States that are signatories to the Arms Trade Treaty to "control arms flows to actors that may use them in ways that breach of international humanitarian law".[736][737]

In June 2016, Ban Ki-moon removed a Saudi-led coalition from a list of children's rights violators,[738] saying that Saudi Arabia threatened to cut Palestinian aid and funds to other UN programs if coalition was not removed from blacklist for killing children in Yemen. According to one source, there was also a threat of "clerics in Riyadh meeting to issue a fatwa against the UN, declaring it anti-Muslim, which would mean no contacts of OIC members, no relations, contributions, support, to any UN projects, programs".[739]

In September 2016, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was accused of blocking the UN inquiry into Saudi war crimes in Yemen.[740]

Al-Qaeda and Islamic State

Both al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Islamic State had a presence in Yemen before the Saudi-led intervention. AQAP had controlled substantial pieces of territory for some time, while Islamic State claimed for twin bombings in Sanaa the following month that killed 140 people and injured hundreds more.[741]

The two radical groups have used the conflict to expand and consolidate, an obvious fact accepted by the Pentagon.[742] AQAP's most determined opponent, the Houthis, disengaged to face rival Yemeni militias at the same time as they were being hit by coalition air strikes;[742][743] Yemeni troops in the south remained in their bases instead of confronting al-Qaeda militants, fearing Saudi air strikes on any troop movements.[744] With the destruction of much of Yemen's military infrastructure by the coalition, even once peace is achieved, there are questions about the ability of the country to confront its Islamist militancy problem.[744]

Within weeks of the commencement of the coalition's campaign, AQAP had exploited the chaos to capture the south-eastern port city of Mukalla,[745] along with nearby military, transport, and economic infrastructure.[742] A series of prison breaks by al-Qaeda – they emptied Mukalla's jail of 300 prisoners and loosed 1,200 inmates in June 2015 from the central prison in Taiz – released jailed jihadists of all ranks.[746][747] Worse, Yemen's prisons had, in preceding years, reportedly become "de facto jihadi academies", as veteran militants were placed in cells alongside young, regular criminals.[744]

The coalition took Yemen's second city of Aden in July 2015. AQAP and Islamic State thereafter increased their presence in the city, "a base they could only have dreamed of before this war began", in the words of the BBC's Frank Gardner.[748] Residents of Aden faced a wave of bombings and shootings that prevented efforts at stabilization.[749] Seven months after rebel fighters from the Houthi militia had been driven from Aden, there were almost daily assassinations of judges, security officials, and police.[750]

At the start of February 2016, AQAP recaptured Azzan, an important commercial city in Shabwa province.[751] A few weeks later, al-Qaeda fighters and Saudi-led coalition forces were seen fighting together against Houthi rebels.[25] But the situation is different in Aden, the AQAP/ISIS and pro-Hadi allies in Taiz that were fighting together side by side are enemies in Aden battlefield, on 29 February 2016, a suicide car killed 4 pro-Hadi troops in Shiek Othman district in Aden, the city that Hadi uses as a temporary capital.[752]

Other effects

Registration of Indian citizens evacuating from Yemen, March 2015

On 25 March, Gulf Air, the Bahraini flag carrier airline announced the immediate suspension of service to Sana'a.[753] Somali airlines such as Daallo Airlines and Jubba Airways also encountered difficulties, as they were unable to fly over Yemen after its airspace became restricted.[754] On 15 April, Turkish Airlines suspended all Yemen flights until 1 June.[755]

Following Hadi's request, the administration of the Egypt-based Nilesat and Saudi-based Arabsat, two satellite communication companies, stopped broadcasting Yemeni state-run television channels that had fallen under Houthi control. The channels included Al-Yemen, Al-Eman, Saba News Agency and Aden TV. Armed Houthis closed down the Sana'a offices of four media outlets, including Al Jazeera, Yemen Shabab and Suhail channels, as well as Al-Masdar's newspaper and website. Al-Saeeda channel was also stormed, but was allowed to remain open on the condition it not broadcast anti-Houthi material. Houthi Political Office member Mohammad Al-Bukhaiti said the channels were closed for supporting the coalition.[756]

King Salman replaced his half-brother Muqrin as crown prince with Muhammad bin Nayef and named his son Mohammed bin Salman as defence minister, and then-Ambassador to the United States Adel al-Jubeir as foreign minister. Some reports linked the cabinet reshuffle to the war.[757][758] At least one political analyst suggested that Muqrin was not supportive of the military intervention, and that this cost him his position.[759] Prince Muqrin's Yemeni Lineage was pointed out as another possible cause.[760]

The exiled Yemeni government sent a request to the UN, asking for foreign troops on the ground.[761]

On 19 June, WikiLeaks announced the intention of releasing over 500,000 Saudi diplomatic documents to the internet. In its statement, WikiLeaks referred to a recent electronic attack on the Saudi Foreign Ministry by a group calling itself the Yemen Cyber Army, but did not indicate whether they passed the documents to WikiLeaks.[762]

On 26 August, Bob Semple, a British hostage who was held by Al Qaeda in Yemen was freed by the UAE armed forces.[763]

Peace talks

Cease fire talks

On 15 May, new UN envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed proposed peace talks in Geneva. Rebel spokesman Hamed al-Bokheiti said the Houthis were willing to hold talks in any "neutral" country.[764] Five days later the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon announced that peace talks would be held in Geneva starting on 28 May and urged all parties to participate.[765] Houthi rebels reiterated their support for the talks while exiled government officials said they would participate only if the Houthi's withdrew from occupied cities.[766]

On 26 May, Ban announced that the peace talks were to be postponed indefinitely after exiled Yemeni officials refused to attend until rebels withdrew from all occupied cities.[767] However, on 6 June the UN announced that peace talks would take place on 14 June[768] Both the exiled officials and the Houthi group confirmed their attendance.[498]

15–19 June 2015 talks

Secretary-General Ban called for a "humanitarian pause" during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Peace talks between the exiled government and the Houthis concluded in Geneva without reaching a ceasefire.[769][770]

Ramadan Peace agreement

On 4 July, Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdul Salam said in a post on his Facebook page that he had met Ahmed on Friday to discuss a Ramadan truce. The US and EU announced their support for a humanitarian truce.[771]

On 9 July, the UN announced an unconditional truce between 10 July until the end of Eid ul Fitr on 17 July. The Special Envoy to Yemen assured the agreement of all warring factions.[772] In a televised speech, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, head of the Houthi's, endorsed the truce, but doubted that the ceasefire would hold.[773][full citation needed] The truce was pierced within an hour by airstrikes.[774] Coalition spokesman later added that the coalition was not bound by the truce and that any truce would be counterproductive.[775] It later added that it was not requested to pause by the exiled Yemeni Government.[776]

Further peace talks

On 8 September, Vice News revealed a leaked email by UN Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed. In it, the envoy confirms that Houthi rebels and the party of former president and Houthi ally Ali Abdullah Saleh have expressed willingness to accept — with some reservations — a UN Security Council resolution, approved in April. This demanded the rebels "withdraw their forces from all areas they have seized, including the capital, Sanaa". "AA/GPC agreed to a new wording on UNSC resolution 2216 that states unequivocally that they are committed to the implementation of 2216 (see document attached) with the exception of article which infringe on Yemeni sovereignty and those related to sanctions," wrote Ould Cheikh Ahmed, referring to Ansar Allah (AA) — another name for the Houthis — and Saleh's General People's Congress party (GPC). "In addition, the new text includes acceptance of the return of the current government for a period of 60 days during which a government of national unity shall be formed," wrote the envoy in the email. According to Ould Cheikh Ahmed, during talks, the Houthis gave ground on certain language, including "mandatory support by the international community for reconstruction that was in the earlier version". "The latter was particularly opposed by KSA Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and GCC Gulf Cooperation Council who did not want it to be interpreted as a form of mandatory compensation," added the UN envoy.[777]

On 10 September, UN Envoy to Yemen announced that all parties had agreed to peace talks. A statement from Hadi's office following a meeting on the issue of new talks affirmed the president's "complete support for the sincere efforts exerted by the special envoy". It urged Ahmed to "exert efforts to achieve the public and honest commitment on the part of the Houthis and Saleh" to implement the 14 April council resolution unconditionally.[778] On 13 September, the exiled Yemeni government announced that it would no longer participate in the peace talks.[779]

2016 talks

On 18 April, peace talks aimed at ending Yemen's civil war that were set to begin faltered before they could start, when delegates representing Yemen's Houthi rebels refused to attend.[780]

On 20 April, talks convened, based on UN Security Council resolution 2216 which called for the Houthi fighters to withdraw from areas they seized since 2014 and hand heavy weapons back to the government.[781]

On 6 August, the UN special envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, announced the suspension in Kuwait, where the talks were being held. He said that the negotiations were not a failure and that they would resume in a month at an undisclosed location. Mr. Ahmed is the second United Nations envoy to try to broker peace talks between the Houthis and other factions in Yemen since March 2015. His predecessor quit after similar peace talk efforts failed. After the breakdown of the talks, one of the Houthi negotiators, Nasser Bagazgooz, blamed the United Nations envoy for seeking what he said amounted to a military solution on behalf of the Saudi-led coalition.[782] Previous negotiations floated the idea of forming a unity government — composed of Houthi and former Hadi government leaders. But the exiled Hadi leaders have consistently rejected any deal that would diminish their power over Yemen, and the Houthis have said that they will reject any deal that does not give them a seat at the table.[783][784][785]

November Ceasefire Saudi-led military coalition and Houthis (Ansar Allah) arrived at a swift ceasefire agreement effective 17 November 2016, as a result of efforts of USA Secretary of State and Oman.[786][787]

See also

References

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  2. ^ Felicia Schwartz; Hakim Almasmari & Asa Fitch (26 March 2015). "Saudi Arabia Launches Military Operations in Yemen". The Wall Street Journal. 
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    Question: Okay. So your colleague at the White House was asked about this – was asked this similar question just a few minutes ago, and what he said was that the review continues. And then he said the assistance that we provide, and which is presumably the assistance that's under review, is primarily logistical support. We do share some intelligence with them, but the United States does not do targeting for them. That's correct?
    Mr. Kirby: Yes"
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