AL-MUKALLA: Iran-backed Houthi mortar and drone attacks on military and civilian targets in Yemen’s southern city of Taiz have killed a civilian and wounded at least 14 more, local military officers and residents said.
An explosive-laden drone hit a military post in Jabal Habashy district on Wednesday, wounding 10 soldiers, Abdul Basit Al-Baher, the Yemeni army spokesperson in Taiz, told Arab News by telephone on Thursday.
“The drone was carrying a large amount of explosive materials and detonated as soldiers were guarding their post,” Al-Baher said.
Also on Wednesday, a primary school student was killed and four more wounded when a mortar shell fired by the Houthis exploded in a residential area in Camb district, east of Taiz, residents said.
The students were returning home from school when the shell landed, critically wounding one who later died at a local hospital.
Eshraq Al-Maqtari, a human rights activist in Taiz and who was at the scene of the explosion, said on Twitter that there had been no clashes between government forces and the Houthis in the area, currently under the control of government forces.
The Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)-supported Al-Thawra Hospital in Taiz received three wounded children under the age of 10, and urged both sides to avoid targeting civilians.
“MSF reiterates its call to all armed groups to abide by international humanitarian law and take all necessary precautions to avoid civilian casualties,” the charity said on Twitter.
Yemen’s Ministry of Human Rights strongly condemned the Houthi shelling of residential areas, and called upon the international community to work on halting the deadly attacks and lifting the rebels’ siege of Taiz.
Intense fighting between government forces and the Houthis continued in the city on Thursday for the sixth consecutive day, as loyalists pushed to expel the Houthis from the suburbs.
Al-Baher said the fighting raged in the eastern and northeastern parts of the city, and that government forces liberated a street and a number of hills in the last three days.
For the last five years, Houthi militiamen have been in control of the city’s outskirts, from where they regularly shell Taiz’s heavily populated downtown areas.
The rebels have come under criticism from local and international rights organizations for blocking the deliveries of vital humanitarian supplies to millions of people in the city.
In the northern province of Jouf, fierce fighting between government forces and the Houthis raged on Wednesday and Thursday near the strategically important Al-Khanjer military base, leaving dozens dead on both sides.
Yemen’s Ministry of Defense said on Wednesday that army troops and allied tribesmen, backed by air cover from Arab coalition warplanes, pushed the Houthis from a number of locations north of Al-Khanjer.
Yemeni army commanders said they were cutting key supply lines to the Houthis before marching toward the city of Hazem, the capital of Jouf, that fell to the rebels in March.
In the capital city of Sanaa, and other Houthi controlled areas in northern Yemen, the rebels have in the last three days held several mass funerals for dozens of their fighters, including many field commanders, who were killed in fighting in different contested areas of the country.
Yemen’s Human Rights Minister Mohammed Askar told Arab News that the Houthi attacks on civilian areas in Taiz showed that the militias were not serious about making peace in Yemen.
“What happened is a crime against humanity and a new escalation by the Houthis. It confirms the militia has no intention to make peace,” the minister said.
Abdu Abdullah Majili, a Yemeni army spokesman, told Arab News the Houthis had violated human right laws and religious and social norms that prohibit targeting residential areas during war.
“We call upon the UN to condemn Houthi violations and to designate this criminal militia as a terrorist organization,” Majili said.