HODEIDA, YEMEN — The U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition conducted numerous airstrikes across Yemen this past weekend, especially against the strategic port city of Hodeida. Heavy civilian casualties have been reported, as has the use of cluster bombs against civilian targets. Hodeida’s water and sewage treatment infrastructure was also targeted in the bombing campaign.
Meanwhile — in a mass kidnapping incident similar to that carried out by ISIS in Sweida, Syria last week — a group of women in Hodeida’s southern Tuhieta district were kidnapped by the Giant’s Brigade on Sunday. The Giant’s Brigade is a group of indigenous mercenaries fighting on behalf of the Saudi-led coalition who share the same Wahhabi ideology as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the so-called Islamic State (ISIS). The women’s whereabouts are still unknown.
One civilian was killed and several others injured, including women and children, when Saudi jets carried out an airstrike on residential buildings in the Riff al-Tahtia neighborhood in Hodeida.
On Friday morning, coalition aircraft targeted a police base in Hodeida’s city center, as well as a plastics factory in the north of the city. The districts of Zubaid and Tuhieta, located in southern Hodeida, were also targeted on Friday, and a market in the city was targeted by two airstrikes.
In a separate incident, four fishing boats were targeted off of Hodeida’s coast inside of Yemen’s territorial waters, killing multiple fishermen according to a statement to MintPress by Yemen’s General Authority for Marine Fisheries in the Red Sea. Subsistence fishing is a primary means of securing food in Hodeida amidst a coalition-imposed blockade of the city’s port, which is used to import over 70 percent of the region’s food.
Yemen’s General Authority for Marine Fisheries told MintPress that the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition, “have prevented fishermen from fishing on the Red Sea coast and threaten them, saying they will be a military target if they try to fish off of Yemen’s coast.”
On Friday, Saudi-led coalition warplanes conducted two airstrikes on a fishing dock. According to Yemen’s General Authority for Marine Fisheries in the Red Sea, Saudi airstrikes have killed 28 fishermen in three attacks on Yemen`s Hodeida in the past three days.
Cluster bombs use renewed
The U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition has renewed its use of cluster bombs against civilian targets in Yemen. Cluster bombs are banned under the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM). On Friday, one civilian was killed and three injured when coalition aircraft dropped cluster bombs on the city of Zubaid.
The U.S.-backed, Saudi-led Coalition has been criticized for its ongoing use of cluster bombs against civilian targets in Yemen, relying on them despite their inherently indiscriminate nature. Cluster bombs which can contain dozens of smaller bomblets, disperse over a wide area and have killed or injured hundreds of civilians in the cities of Sadaa and Hajjah in northern Yemen.
Hodeida radio building destroyed
Saudi airstrikes also targeted and destroyed a building housing a radio station in Hodeida on Friday. The attack comes in the context of the implementation of a plan approved during a coalition Ministers of Information meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on June 23. The details of the plan, which seeks to curb negative news coverage of the coalition’s war on Yemen, were revealed in an investigation by MinPress on July 2.
JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA – “That was the last time I saw Hashem,” recounted Mohammed Al Humran, a local Yemeni journalist, as he told how his 21-year-old son Hashem was killed in a double-tap airstrike while filming Saudi bombing raids in Dahian, north of Sadaa.
In that meeting, MintPress, along with other media, was mentioned as a threat to the coalition’s ongoing military operations in the port city of Hodeida. The coalition also developed a number of strategies to stem the flow of information from the frontlines of the war, including destroying media infrastructure of belonging the the Houthis as well as Yemen’s army.
The Yemeni Media Union told MintPress that the targeting of the Hodeida radio station comes as part of a systematic operation against national media institutions on Yemen’s west coast, and that similar attacks have increased since the coalition meeting in Jeddah.
Hodeidah water treatment facility destroyed
Wells that fed Hodeida’s water system and sewage treatment plant in the district of Zabid were also destroyed by Saudi airstrikes on Friday. Hodeida’s residents — who are currently enduring a severe heat wave in addition to a second outbreak of cholera — temporarily lost access to water.
The Ministry of Water and Sanitation, based in Sana’a, said in a statement to MintPress that the targeting of wells and the water system in Hodeida has caused the interruption of water for tens of thousands of families, adding:
These acts create the environmental and health conditions that allow the spread of disease, epidemics and cholera which thrive in the absence of safe drinking water.”
Last week, the UNICEF-funded al Asayed Water Network in Sadaa was destroyed by four airstrikes, leaving thousands of residents of the Al Safra district, including internally displaced families, without clean drinking water.
In two prior incidents, Saudi attacks left the Al-Hamazat water system, located in the district of Sehar east of Noshour, completely destroyed — leaving 7,500 people, including internally displaced families, without water. The same water system came under attack and was destroyed in 2015.
According to a statement to MintPress by the Legal Center For Rights and Development, an organization that tracks Saudi Arabia’s violations of international law in Yemen, 727 water pumps and tanks have been destroyed since 2015.
International NGO Save the Children has warned that fresh Saudi attacks could create the ideal conditions for a catastrophic new cholera outbreak, potentially affecting thousands of people in Hodeida. Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Save the Children’s CEO, said, “the recent bombings could make Hodeida ground zero for a fresh outbreak.”
Coalition attacks across Yemen
In Sana`a, U.S.-backed Saudi-coalition aircraft launched at least five airstrikes on the Sana’a International Airport. The attacks took place immediately following the departure of UN Envoy Martin Griffith. The Sana’a airport has been targeted over 200 times since 2015, despite being closed as a result of the coalition-imposed blockade.
In Sadaa, one civilian was killed and a child was wounded when Saudi airstrikes targeted a home in the district of Yacbur, 10 km north of Sadaa. Saudi missiles and artillery strikes also killed one person in the border district of Shida.
Top Photo | The site of a Saudi coalition airstrike in Saada, Yemen. Naif Rahma | Reuters
Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.