AL-MUKALLA: At least six civilians, including two women and two children, were killed and many more wounded on Wednesday in heavy artillery and cannon shelling by the Houthis in the southern province of Taiz, a local Yemeni official told Arab News.
Col. Abdul Basit Al-Baher, a Yemeni army spokesperson in the southern city of Taiz, said that the Iran-backed Houthis launched a major raid in Taiz’s Al-Haima region, east of the province, targeting a military officer loyal to the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
More than 60 military vehicles, artillery weapons and cannons were involved in the raid, Al-Baher said.
“The Houthis shelled the area with heavy weapons that killed and wounded at least 18 civilians and destroyed many houses,” the military officer said on Thursday afternoon, adding that Houthi fighters were stationed on high locations where they shelled the area and gunned down residents. “Through my conversations with some residents, we learned that the raid is still going on and the Houthis are determined to humiliate the people.”
The targeted officer is said to be a sniper from the Republican Guards who engaged in fighting against the Houthis. During the raid, the Houthis blew up two houses and took several children hostage to force the officer to surrender. Images posted on social media showed heavy smoke billowing from targeted houses and farms as the Houthis heavily shelled the area. The Houthis staged a similar assault on Al-Haima in 2018, looking for the same person.
Also in Taiz, the RASD Coalition for Monitoring the National Dialogue, a Yemeni organization that documents human rights violations during the war, said on Jan. 4 that more than 70 attacks by the Houthis on civilian targets in Taiz from Nov. 1 to Dec. 19 had killed 11 civilians, including six children, and wounded 37 others, including 21 children and four women in different districts in Taiz. Houthi missile and mortar strikes had also damaged or ruined 25 private and government facilities.
The escalation in attacks by the Houthis comes as the UN Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths on Thursday landed in the port city of Aden. After touching down in Aden airport, the UN envoy visited parts of Aden airport that were damaged by the missile attack.
On Dec. 30, three guided missiles ripped through Aden airport shortly after the arrival of Yemen’s new unity government, killing 27 people and wounding more than 100 and triggering local and international outrage.
The Yemeni government accused the Houthis and Iranian military experts of staging the attack and called for labeling the Houthi movement a terrorist group. Despite his strong condemnations of the attack, Yemeni government officials pushed to convince the UN Yemen envoy to issue a statement shaming and naming the Houthis for attacks on civilians and derailing peace efforts to end the war.
During a meeting with the Yemeni Foreign Minister Ahmed Awadh bin Mubarak at the presidential palace in Aden on Thursday, the UN Yemen envoy renewed his support for the new government and the strong condemnations of the deadly attack on Aden airport. The foreign minister called for punishing the Houthis for violating international law by targeting a civilian facility, officials told Arab News.
On Wednesday, the Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi told Griffiths that Iran ordered the Houthis to attack Aden airport with missiles to ruin peace efforts, and that the Houthis had never been serious about reaching a peace agreement to end the war in Yemen.