August 4, 2017 / 12:26 PM / 16 days ago

Nine family members killed in Yemen air strike

DUBAI, Aug 4 (Reuters) - Three women and six children from the same family were killed in an air strike by the Saudi-led coalition on their home in northern Yemen on Friday, a local health official said, the latest in a series of attacks since 2015.

Yemen has been torn by a civil war in which the exiled government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, backed by the Saudi-led coalition, is trying to roll back gains made by the Iran-aligned Houthi group which controls most of northern Yemen, including the capital Sanaa.

The head of the local health department, Dr Abdel-Ilah al-Azzi, said the attack at dawn on the family home of Taha al-Dharafi in Mahda district on the south-western outskirts of Saada city, also injured three other people.

"We are recording all the crimes of the enemy and we will not forget them," Azzi said. "All the criminals will be put on trial soon, God willing," he added.

A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition did not respond to a request for a comment.

It was not immediately clear if the house was hit by mistake, but the coalition says it does not target civilians.

A family relative, who declined to be identified, said the attack happened before dawn while the family slept. He said the bodies were taken to the morgue while rescue workers continued to search for a missing woman in the rubble of the house.

Pictures from the scene showed the house completely destroyed by the strike. Residents who rushed to the scene were afraid to start rescue work while aircraft hovered overhead.

Saada, a stronghold of the Houthi group, which hails from the Zaidi branch of Shi'ite Islam, has been repeatedly hit by air strikes since the coalition of Arab states joined the civil war in March 2015. They see the war as an attempt by Iran to expand its influence in Yemen.

At least 25 Yemenis were killed in June when Saudi-led coalition aircraft struck a market in the Saada province.

And in March, another coalition air strike killed 22 people and wounded dozens in a market in western Yemen near the Red Sea fishing town of Khoukha.

Khoukha and the nearby city of Hodeidah are controlled by the Houthis who overran Sanaa in 2014 and moved south to Aden in 2015 forcing Hadi and his administration to flee into exile.

The Yemen war has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced more than three million and ruined much of the impoverished country's infrastructure.

The Saudi-led coalition was formed in 2015 to fight the Houthis and troops loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh who have fired missiles into neighboring Saudi Arabia.

In December, the coalition acknowledged it had made "limited use" of British-made cluster bombs, but said it had stopped using them.

Nearly half of Yemen's 22 provinces are on the verge of famine, according to the U.N. World Food Programme. (Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Clelia Oziel)

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