“Saudi fighter jets were hovering above our head and launching very violent raids, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the war began three years ago. The neighboring houses shook so much we thought an earthquake hit the area.” — Sana’a resident Ali Abdul Salam Damesh
SANA’A, YEMEN — “Saudi fighter jets were hovering above our head and launching very violent raids, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the war began three years ago,” 52-year-old Ali Abdul Salam Damesh told MintPress News. “The neighboring houses shook so much we thought an earthquake hit the area.”
Damesh was one of the escapees who was able to flee from Saudi coalition airstrikes targeting the Jedder area in Yemen’s capital of Sana’a. Three civilians were killed and five injured in the largest such attack on the city in months.
Saudi coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki said, in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, that the alliance launched an “operation to destroy multiple military targets,” including seven bases across Sana’a, adding that “targets included alleged drone storage and testing areas, training bases, and bomb-manufacturing facilities.”
Yet the airstrikes hit non-military targets including food, plastics and sponge factories, as well as neighboring homes. The airstrikes, which began late Saturday night and continued until dawn on Sunday, also targeted the Sana’a International Airport. The explosions from the strikes lit up the night sky and rocked homes across much of the city. Two of the factories that were targeted had recently resumed manufacturing amid hope that the situation in the country was stabilizing following peace talks.
Airstrikes are merciless
“Airstrikes have no mercy, not for a child or for an old man or a woman,” Yahia al Moyeid, a resident of Sana’a, shouted, continuing:
People were escaping into the open from the sponge factory that was on fire after being hit, not knowing when bombs will fall. Children are living in fear and get terrified from the sounds of jets, even when they’re far away! They have seen the rockets with their own eyes.”
As the Saudi jets returned to Sana’a, rescue workers pulled on their boots and surrounding hospitals braced for casualties. “It’s a wait that feels like hell,” said one resident as he observed the skies of Sana’a from Hamdan, a nearby suburb, while the airstrikes took place.
Spokesman Al-Maliki claimed that the attack on Sana’a was in compliance with international humanitarian law, adding that all preventive measures had been taken. Yet scenes from the violent airstrikes of dead civilians and people being forced to flee into open areas in fear of incoming airstrikes hearkened back to the early days of the Saudi coalition war on Yemen.
“A joint U.S.-Saudi act of aggression”
The Houthi Ansar Allah movement, which has been leading the resistance against the Saudi coalition, described the airstrikes as “a joint U.S.-Saudi act of aggression.”
“The U.S. directed and prepared these operations in Sana’a and other areas,” said Ali al-Quhoom, a member of Ansar Allah’s Political Bureau. “We will escalate our response.”
Yemen’s Human Rights Ministry condemned the attack on the capital, saying the raids came at a time when the city was hosting people who had fled Saudi-led airstrikes in other parts of the country.
According to a new report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, the Saudi-led war has so far claimed the lives of about 56,000 Yemenis.
However, the Yemeni people have high morale. “We will not be defeated, we will win, we are strong, and we are not afraid,” a man said defiantly. Tagiaah — a mother of two living in Old Sana’a, who described Sana’a as a lion’s heart — said, “The Saudis burned everything and demolished our homes.” She believes that Yemenis have the right to use the drones and ballistic missiles to defend themselves.
Starvation is not an accidental byproduct
Since the war began in 2015, the Saudi-led coalition has regularly targeted civilian structures including factories, commercial warehouses and farms, causing them to cease production and hundreds of workers to lose their livelihoods. Schools and hospitals have also been targeted.
The UN has already said that a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, backed by the United States, have been using starvation as weapon against Yemenis in order to compel them to submit, causing massive suffering of tens of millions of people and destabilizing the entire area for years and possibly decades to come.
Top Photo | Yemeni children hold missile shrapnel they collected from the site of a Saudi airstrike in the Yemen’s capital Sanaa, Jan. 20, 2019. Photo | Reuters
Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.