Middle East

Yemen crisis: Saudi-led air raids 'kill 65' in Taiz

A man walks on the rubble of houses destroyed by Saudi-led air strikes in Taiz on 21 August 2015 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Several homes were destroyed in the raids, trapping residents under the rubble

At least 65 civilians have reportedly been killed in air strikes by a Saudi-led coalition on the Yemeni city of Taiz.

More than half of the dead were women and children, according to aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).

Taiz has been the scene of intense clashes between Houthi rebels and pro-government forces, supported by Saudi Arabia and its allies.

The coalition began targeting the Houthis in March.

It wants to defeat the rebel group, which controls much of Yemen, and restore the government of exiled President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi.

The conflict has killed about 4,000 people so far, nearly half of them civilians, according to the United Nations.

Seventeen of those who lost their lives in air strikes late on Thursday were members of the same family, MSF said.

A number of civilians also died in rebel shelling in Taiz.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Food and water supplies have been disrupted by the fighting

"We call on the warring parties to stop attacking civilian targets, especially hospitals, ambulances and densely populated neighbourhoods," MSF said in a statement.

The Houthis - backed by forces loyal to the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh - say they are fighting against corruption and marginalisation of their northern powerbase by Mr Hadi's government.

Sunni power Saudi Arabia alleges its Shia rival Iran is providing the rebels with weapons. Tehran and the Houthis deny this.

Why is there fighting in Yemen?

Image copyright AFP
  • Northern Shia Muslim rebels known as Houthis, backed by forces loyal to Yemen's ex-president, took over parts of Yemen, including Sanaa, and forced the government into exile in March
  • The rebels accused the government of corruption and of planning to marginalise their heartland within a proposed federal system
  • Forces loyal to the government, and southern militia, are fighting back, aided by air strikes led by neighbouring Saudi Arabia

Yemen crisis: Who is fighting whom?

Meeting the Houthis and their enemies

Yemen's humanitarian catastrophe