An Aerial Attack Killed his Family – Walid’s Story: Watch
July 3, Saada: The ancient mud-house city of Saada, under the control of Houthi rebels since 2011, was almost deserted when Belkis Wille arrived in late May to investigate damage caused by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s aerial bombing of Yemen. By that time, the scorched streets were dotted with craters but empty of people – most women and children had already fled, heeding Saudi warnings that the nine-country coalition now considered the entire city of 40,000 to be a military target.
As Belkis and her colleague Ole Solvang began asking those remaining about the air strikes, they heard one story over and over – the attack on a two-story, two-home residential building that killed 27 members of the al-Ibbi family, including 17 children. “Everyone kept telling us about it, because it was so dramatic,” Belkis recalls. “But also because the townspeople insisted that the father was just a simple retired barber, that his sons worked in the family’s two barber shops, and that they had no connection to the rebel Houthi forces.”
March 26 was the first day of the Saudi-led airstrikes, intended to oust the Houthis, who had taken over the capital, Sanaa, and much of the rest of Yemen. While many strikes hit military targets, others hit schools, a displaced persons’ camp, and a dairy factory, as well as civilian homes.
Belkis and Ole wrote their report, “Targeting Saada: Unlawful Coalition Airstrikes on Saada in Yemen,” to persuade the coalition member countries to take much greater care in identifying only military targets to attack, and to take all possible measures to reduce civilian harm. The war has already caused upwards of 1,400 civilian deaths, many caused by airstrikes. That coalition includes Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. The US has said it provides intelligence and logistical support for the airstrikes.