Sanaa residents brace for more strikes as Yemen war spirals

Ghazi al-Qadasi closes his apparel store early these days to rush home as residents of the Yemeni capital brace for further air strikes by a Saudi-led coalition after at least 20 people were killed in a bombing two days ago.


FILE PHOTO: A building with shattered windows is reflected on fragments of window glass broken by a Saudi-led air strike on a nearby military site in Sanaa, Yemen January 19, 2022. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah


“There have been three days of very strong strikes,” said Qadasi, whose store is in Sanaa’s Hael district, which lies 1 km (0.62 mile) from a military area that had been struck.


“Clients are scared and we have started closing our stores early to go make sure our children are inside the house.”


Sanaa, held by Iran-aligned Houthi forces since 2014, had since 2020 enjoyed relative calm as fighting flared elsewhere in Yemen. But in September the coalition resumed attacks on military sites belonging to the Houthis, which had ramped up cross-border missile and drone launches on Saudi cities and on Monday struck the United Arab Emirates.


Ahmed al-Hashedi and his family live in a building near a military academy on the road leading to Sanaa airport. A dawn air strike on Wednesday shattered the windows and left gaping holes in the walls.


“They (coalition) have ruined our lives. There is nothing left. Where shall we go, the street?” Hashedi, 48, said.

The United Nations has urged de-escalation in the nearly seven-year-old conflict in which more than 100,000 people have been killed and 4 million displaced in a war marked by coalition air strikes as well as Houthi shelling and missiles.


The coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after the Houthis ousted the Saudi-backed government from Sanaa. The Houthis say they are fighting foreign aggression.


As violence escalates, the International Rescue Committee called in a statement on Thursday for the reinstatement of a war crimes investigations body which was shut down last October.


It cited data from the Yemen Data Project showing that in the two months after the panel was closed, coalition bombing rates had increased by 43%.


In Sanaa’s Hael district, government employee Saleem Rajeh said he worries about leaving his family to go to work, while silverware store owner Ibrahim Alwan feels trapped.


“You think about leaving but where do you go? You can’t make a living in the countryside,” Alwan said. “So do you stay here and wait for the air strikes or do you leave? We are in an unenviable position.”




Reporting by Yemen team; writing by Ghaida Ghantous; editing by Mark Heinrich

© 2022 Reuters.

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